China Is a Zoo, and I Am its Monkey

May 27, 2012

The newly paved road of my narrow hutong is a bit inclined, and my bicycle doesn’t like it. I decide to park it with the rear tire sticking out a bit; I’ll just run out and move it if a driver needs to pass by.

I enter through the tiny doors and greet the young girl sticking lettuce onto sticks. “Nihao.” She’s there every single day.

She replies: “Nihao.”

Two men are waiting for their dinner at the table closest to the fan. “And hello to YOU,” one calls out, enthusiastically.

I turn a bright smile at him, and as I turn to pick ingredients for my malatang dish (the one I always tell them not to add peppers to, but which always comes back whopping spicy anyways, and I’m no wuss), I hear him tell his dining mate: “Yes, I’ve seen her before.”

I make a show of turning all the way around to face him and smile again so he’ll know that A. I understand him, and B. I’m not an animal in a zoo.

To no avail.

I pay the lady, take a seat, and pull out my cell to begin composing this post. The man continues discussing me.

The TV distracts me momentarily: an older man is awakening a frightened, screaming younger woman by trying to force her to have sex with him; she defends herself simply by jumping off the bed. And then she just stands there, glaring at him.

Taken from eWritings

Taken from eWritings

I am bewildered, and return to my phone.

The food is done, and I say, “I don’t need chop sticks, thank you.”

As I walk out, the dining man says, “Oh, she’s going now.”

I roll my eyes, because I’m not yet big enough to accept the fact that I am, indeed, just an animal in a zoo, everywhere I go, but especially, every time, for some reason, in this malatang place.

Too bad I’m addicted to malatang.


2 Responses to “China Is a Zoo, and I Am its Monkey”

  1. Yes. Exoticization happens everywhere. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. xmengmeng said

    haha, that’s also the way I feel everyday in Malawi

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