I now have a small (very small) understanding of celebrity life. In both Thailand and China, Lucy, Nati and I–mostly the girls–have been photographed extensively by the locals, sometimes secretly, sometimes not so secretly. A courageous few have asked us to pose for them, and the bolder still pose with us. The big moments are when the poses start and then EVERYONE wants their photo taken with these western oddities. At first, it was a fun novelty, now it is just routine–a non-event to smile and shuffle on.
Guides have explained to us that I look like the ideal man with a lean muscular body and manly features. (I suppose I am slightly taller than most as well.) In China, the guide described the rarity of naturally blonde hair, and, surprisingly, sisters, since the one-child policy went into effect in the late seventies.
I can’t help but think we have missed an opportunity for cultural exchange. We have picked up the basics in each country (hello, thank you, numbers), but there is always this awkward moment–after the photo when everyone stares at each other and wants to talk, to connect. “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “How did you get that scar?” Realizing that isn’t going to happen, everyone smiles, sort of bows, says thanks and moves on. A digital image that will ask more questions than answers.
I hope this whirlwind tour has planted the same desire to connect in my daughters as it has in me. At a minimum, it has opened their eyes to other cultures, economic conditions and physical differences. I hope this awareness results in long-term outreach and adventure and not superficial disdain.
Like celebrities, we claim to dislike this attention–we endure the photographs and wish for privacy. I am also sure that we will be sad when we lose our easily attained specialness in Asia where our physical attributes have given us free passes for cultural and etiquette faux pas, and we will soon return to struggle to not be the ugly Americans. In the meantime, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Also take a look at these other pages:
We have a new < 3 on the terra-cotta warriors of Xi’an.
Lucy has spent a lot of time working on her animal page, with entries on cormorant fishing and pandas. Natalie has also updated her currency page. Plus, we have new favorite photos, and we have tried to update everything else as well.