I was walking on the street today taking pictures and an older Chinese women approaches me out of nowhere. Normally people don’t mind me taking pictures of them, and I did not think I had taken a picture of this particular Chinese woman and my immediate reaction was whoops, I’ll delete it no problem. But she kept on asking me “ni shi ji zhe ma?” Are you a reporter?
Stunned, I kept trying to tell her no, I was just a lao wai, foreigner, taking pictures for fun, but she didn’t believe me. The fact that I could speak Chinese and I looked remotely Chinese with a big fancy camera meant I was a reporter. She was actually happy I was taking photos of the area, in her eyes, the place had gone to hell and was a complete mess. The government needs to do something she said. Report the mess she continued, show the world my dirty street.
As I tried to assuage her fears that her street wasn’t that dirty in comparison to other streets in Beijing she began to agree. But then asked, if the street wasn’t worth reporting why wasn’t I writing about the Malaysian airplanes…
Oh, China. I love you.