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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Maxx

BLOG POST:Once I Got Caught Staring at an Old Chinese Man.

Updated: May 30, 2023

I love to travel. My favorite part of traveling is people watching.

I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to go to Asia several times. The first time I was there, I was completely overwhelmed.

I was visiting my boyfriend at the time. He lived in Shanghai. While he was at work, I explored the very crowded city on my own. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the language, everything was new and alien to me. Not only did I have to find my way around a foreign city alone, which in itself was daunting, but, in this case, it wasn’t just that I couldn’t speak the language, I also couldn't READ it! It was overwhelming, frustrating, and at times terrifying. It was also exciting, exhilarating, extremely empowering, and addictive. Some people jump out of airplanes for an adrenaline rush, I prefer to go to places that are completely unfamiliar. The last time I was in Shanghai was in 2019. Things had changed tremendously in the decade between visits, not only in China, but also in me. The first time that I was in the Far East the cultural differences stood out to me. The last time, the similarities spoke to me. No matter where we’re from, we all love nature. We all take enormous pride in, and have great hopes for our children. We relish days off, good food, blue water, pretty things and a smile from a stranger. We all find the unfamiliar exotic and intriguing. During my most recent trip, I spotted and older Chinese man with a long beard in a long black robe with a wooden cane. He seemed extremely mysterious and enticing to me. Not wanting to be obtrusive, I stared at him from the corner of my eye and surreptitiously tried to take his picture. At one point as I was doing this, I realized he was doing the same to me! My red hair and tattoos were as gorgeously foreign to him as his beard and robe was to me! After some ridiculous pantomiming that looked like a bizarre game of charades, we came to the mutual (although silent) agreement that we could take each other‘s picture. We then decided, again with no words, that we wanted a picture of us taken together. We gave our phones to someone to photograph us, and as we posed, a crowd gathered around and started taking our picture! It was a funny, touching and teaching moment. Despite all the focus on “us and them”, when it comes down to it at the end of the day, we are all the same really,..simply and complexly beautifully human.


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