19 March 2007

for a relaxing time, suntori time

So we went to a charity rock concert on Saturday night because a friend of ours' band was playing. We showed up overly early, so we went for a walk to grab a bite to eat. When we found that we were the only foreigners in sight and that even the foot massage parlors were closing down, we headed up several flights of stairs towards the sound of sneakers on basketball courts.

It was an indoor basketball club and suddenly we were on film for the sole reason that we were white. They filmed us walking around and checking out the gear. I was glad I was wearing my Jenny from the Block pageboy hat.

This isn't actually that unusual: we're occasionally photographed, often approached, and usually mimicked. If I put on my sunglasses to avoid the cameraphone of the girl next to me, she puts on her sunglasses too. If I take off my coat, so does a crowd.

My friend Brian actually had fun with this once on the subway, posing with some girls who had been covertly photographing him (probably to tell others that he was their western boyfriend). And Dirk has been filmed for the local news once because he was in a domino competition at work (some sort of weird Chinese company bonding thing). But this was the first time we were asked to stand there, say we were American, and then promote a product.

I mean, we did it, of course, and didn't even try to follow the stage directions ("More . . . intensity." "That's all he said?" "More intensity." And you thought it was just a line from Lost in Translation.). It went something like this:

"We're American and in America we have basketball. Here they have basketball. It's exactly the same basketball. In America we have hiphop. Here they also have hiphop. It's exactly the same hiphop. This place is exactly the same as New York. It's very cool. Very American."

And on and on and on.

It's strange to have so much attention on you so much of the time. It's actually not that bad in Shanghai, but we've had people wake up their children to look at us and we've definitely had out share of being pointed at.

Expats say that they have reverse culture shock when they go home for a visit. They say that it's alarming to walk down the street without people trying to talk to you; they start to feel attention-deprived.

Dirk gets stopped several times each day because he works in Puxi (I work in Pudong across the street from where I teach) and he says that girls looking for western pockets are always approaching him. I don't mind this- I don't blame the girl and it would be funny if it weren't so symptomatic of the options readily available to women here.

I'd like to do it for a living this summer- be western and talk in front of cameras for money. People spend whole time-warped years here doing that and I don't think it'd be such a bad way to make some extra pocket change.

And there's only ever one stage direction to remember anyway: More intensity-

betholindo at 18:45

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