Stare? Apparently not in China. And not when the subject to be stared at is non-Asian. Everywhere we go, especially on buses and trains, people are staring, staring, staring. Openly gaping, unabashed. Yes, we are white. Yes, our hair is light. And yes, mine is wildly curly, “exotic” as one boy told me today.
Sometimes it makes us feel like celebrities when people stop us in mid-walk to ask for our picture or to plead that we pose with them. Or gasp in awe when we tell them my hair is not a perm. It’s flattering. And we’ve even made a few friends when people march right up to us and tell us that we’re beautiful and ask us to talk with them so they can practice their English. But the constant staring gets old. Sometimes I meet the gaze head-on, or I’ll wave or say hello, but even that doesn’t work sometimes, and what I really want to do is glare. But then I remember that I’m representing America and don’t want them to think we’re all arrogant jerks.
It’s also frustrating that our American looks mean nothing but dollar signs to a lot of people. Sometimes beggars will come right up to us--I’m talking literally in our faces--and try to block our path and force us to choke up our millions. Rachel and I are not wealthy, and we’re not exactly on vacation, either.