In fact, “Watch out” is what I should be telling the Chinese people who can’t drag their stares away from me long enough to notice that the bicycle they are riding is about to collide directly with that tree.
Well, not the actual collision part.
Although…I didn’t turn back around to check.
Maybe he did…
Okay okay, there was no collision, but it was definitely a close call.
Laowai 老外 = foreigner.
Yes, us foreigners in Beijing cause heads to turn…and more often than not, they don’t turn back. (Unless you glare back 🙂 )
Just as I was walking back from class earlier, while waiting to cross the road, a taxi drove past, and the passenger shouted “HELLOOO!!” at me out of his open window. Honestly, why? It’s not as if he’s going to get any further than shouting ‘hello’ at me, considering his taxi is driving away from me. Does he expect a conversation to ensue, or something?? God knows.
Even worse are the motorbikes that drive on the pavement. There I am walking along, in nobody’s way at all, and a motorcyclist drives past – yes, on the pavement, sometimes there are cars too (the pavements are pretty wide) – his head spinning round to follow me as we continue in opposite directions. Or if I’m REALLY lucky, the same direction. Walking alongside an engine-revving motorcyclist, charming.
A few weeks back, when the lift doors opened on my floor for me to get in, a little boy who was inside (around 6 or 7 years old, I guess) pointed at me and shouted: “Waiguoren! 外国人！(Foreigner!).
As if I need his help drawing more attention…
For the journey down however, his grandmother (I assume) who was with him, tried to encourage the boy to talk to me, and ask me where I was from. She was telling him that because I’m from a different country, I’m a ‘foreigner’ when I’m in China, and “isn’t that right?”. I don’t think the boy really got what she was trying to tell him though, he just looked up at me with this huge cheeky grin on his face, so I told him “And in my country, you’d be a foreigner then, right? :)”. He seemed to find this thought hilarious.
I’d take the little kid curious stares over the cyclists’ and drivers’ unflinching stares anyday though, especially because turning their heads away from the crazy Beijing roads for more than 10seconds (or as long as I happen to be in their line of sight, to be honest) is just asking for trouble.
It just so happens that a reduction in annoying stares and whispers would be an added bonus for me.