Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who is saying what Part 1

A couple of days ago two lady friends (B and H) and I were standing on the street here in Chengdu. We were talking animatedly and laughing and suddenly a middle-aged Chinese woman pulled up close beside us on her motorscooter and began barraging us with questions. Here's how the conversation went (I'm sure you can figure out who is saying what):

[After closely scrutinizing us out for about 30 seconds]

"Where are you from?"

"Sweden, England and Spain."

"All three of you look so old! How old are you?!"

"45, 48, over 50..."

"You're that young??! I'm over 50 too. Your hair is all grey, why don't you color it?

"We like it natural!"

"Look at mine.  It's cheap and easy, no problem!"
[Pointing chin towards beauty parlour down the street. Her hair has no trace of grey but is also clearly not her natural color. Coppery brown is the "in thing" amongst middle-aged Chengdu ladies.]

Then B thought she said that B was fat and B said "I know I'm fat!" and I said that she didn't say that you were fat, she said something else and we all cracked up laughing. But not the Chinese lady who didn't catch this extra interchange. She put up a good smile anyway and drove off on her motorscooter shaking her head at the crazy foreign ladies who have the money to color their hair but still choose to look old and frumpy. 


  1. This must be why some heavenly force or other chose to put us all within different cultures!! Sooo much fun!!
    One day over the much longed for and talked about bottle of wine we will have next time we meet, I will tell you about the animated discussions turned sour, I had with the older Istanbul(ian??) man one night (plus some following comments the day after, last week! Different cultures are great fun, but difficult!!

  2. My thoughts exactly! I have long since gotten upset by conversations like these where Chinese tell me I'm too fat, too this or too that - all in their typically bossy but concerned way. It is too much fun and they don't mean anything by it. I'm more upset when they act superior, litter or treat minorities arrogantly. But recently several people have asked me if I was Burton and Emy's Grandmother (because of my grey hair). THAT made me upset! It also embarrased the one who asked the question....bring a BiB with you to Beijing by the way, red ok?? ;-°

  3. Not to worry! About six months or so I was having a great "fika" with Sis and darling Henning. Some old lady at the table next to ours said to me "are you the grandmother?". I was totally startled to answer anything witty and Sis told me later, which is true, that I very well could have been the grandmother of Henning. The only thing I thought about though was the fact that she, by saying that, thought I was the mother of my sister. But that was perhaps not at all what she saw.
    And I promise to bring a BIB EACH next time I see you darling!! :-)