Monday, December 05, 2005

Ain't Too Proud to Beg
C and I had finished a sumptious picnic lunch of KFC, stinky tofu, oranges and a beer for me and were lounging among 142,312 others in Shenzhen's Lotus Park. An elderly beggar lady approached and doggedly stood in front of me clanking her tin bowl and keening. I'd just previously donated to two others of her ilk and word had obviously spread that there was a foreign barbarian easy mark in the park, so I pretended to ignore her.
Foolish me. After about 2 or 3 minutes she still hadn't stopped. I was feeling a little sleepy anyway so I flopped down and closed my eyes, lulled by the sound of her whining and the gentle murmurming of 142,310 other Chinese.
She still didn't stop.
I feigned snoring. C pretended to be absorbed in a novel and the crone left but not before turning and snarling at me as she waddled off. C laughed.
"What did she say?"
"She said to stop pretending that you're sleeping."
About 30 minutes later the beggar returned and began the whole routine again. I finally pulled out one of the three phrases I know, something like "Boo-yau" which supposedly means "None for me, thanks"; kind of a polite "Fuck off."
I kept repeating it and she finally left, only to turn around and bark my phrase back at me, only more clearly.
"She was correcting your pronounciation," C said.
A beggar Chinese tutor! A new growth industry....
On my 14 day visit to Chibna/Shenzhen, the beggars was what annoyed me the most.

You won't belive the endurance of these people (especially the old ladies) before you've seen it with your own eyes. I experienced being hunted 1 block by an old lady with a cane that seemed to old to walk, but still kept up the pace when me and the GF began walking as fast as you can, before it is considered running. Friendly gestures of "No thanks...", persistant ignoring and finally a loud annoyed "BU!" from my side didn't help.

I think we finally lost her in a bold move crossing a street with medium traffic. Or maybe she finally lost her breath.

My girlfriend told me that many of these people have enough money to get by, but still they take on this extra job to get some extra dough. I know this may be few of the many beggars, for I have seen many that I never doubted for a second only did this because it was the last resort. Coming from a western country with only few beggars, it is a cultural shock to withness how bad people of ill fortune is treated in Shenzhen. I don't know what is worst. That we "hide" them from our sight in special homes/schools here in Denmark, or that they are left to their own fate in China.
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