Friday, June 29, 2007

Beijing Street Barber

There are places you visit that catch the eye and you marvel at something different. Or places that engage the mind and you enjoy the way things are done differently, ingeniously and innovatively. China is NOT one of those places. It does not catch the eye. Or engage the mind. It grabs your heart. The eye and mind then follow. And it grabs your heart because their people do. There is something about their communal living, community spirit and the way they interact with each other that is missing in our western communities but to which I respond. That community mindedness means they do not really care too much about what others think about what one is doing. (What you are saying is another matter in this still Communist, centrally controlled state).

In a lane off one of Beijing’s boulevards this street barber was chatting away to the two by the wall, in her shop that was a piece of the sidewalk. Her tools are hung in a leather satchel on the pole beside her. The conversation was staccato fast, with everyone talking and no one listening. Did anyone care about the way the hair cut was progressing? I don’t think so. I loved the normalcy about the whole scene. People walked around them. Customers lined up in the street, patiently waiting their turn. Everyone knew everyone else, chatted and joked together. China is an extended family after all.

October 2004

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