I went to the market to buy some peaches today. When we go to this particular farmer’s market, we always get a lot of attention. We’re usually the only foreigners around, so we always attract quite a bit of attention. But usually we can buy our peaches without much more than a few stares following us on our way.
But today I spotted a basket. I’ve been wanting to find a basket for the corner of our living room, where I could keep a throw blanket and a pillow. I’d had my eye out for one for several months, and when I saw this basket in the market, I knew I’d found the perfect one. It is the type of basket used by the local farmers during the harvest. Personally, I thought it had a lot of character and at only $3, would be quite the steal and perfect for the little corner I had in mind.
So, in spite of the vendor’s incredulous look, I bought it.
And I carried it home… I put my peaches in the basket and happily walked back through the market towards home, content with my purchases. It didn’t take long for me to notice something amiss… it was the laughter I noticed at first. Usually you don’t hear much audible laughter in China in public places, but suddenly I noticed quite a bit. And then there were the questions, “Why did you buy that basket?” “What will you do with it?” I think several farmers thought I might be joining them in the harvest.
I got more and more embarrassed the longer I walked… A couple of old ladies couldn’t help themselves… they started pointing and laughing out loud. An older man amused his friend by momentarily putting his large bag of veggies in my basket, as I walked through a particularly crowded section of the outdoor market. I think that he thought I’d bought it to take my peaches home…
If he knew why I’d really bought it, he’d have really laughed…
The Tib. update is still forthcoming… sorry I’m so slow. If anyone else wants to get on the e-mail list for it, go ahead and send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.