Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pre-Birthday Shopping Expedition

Actually my adventure today had nothing to do with my birthday. I just felt sick of Chinese after class and wanted to do something that wasn't memorize characters. So I got on a bus and started toward the middle of the city. When I got off that one I happened to be on the street devoted to safe deposit boxes. I had heard that in Chengdu shopping is organized by what you're buying, so if you need a door, you go to door street, or whatever. I had never seen it before, though. At least 15 stores in a row had rows of safes:

Those shops didn't perk my interest much, though, so I got on a few more buses and finally found myself in Tianfu Square, the huge plaza in the middle of Chengdu. I was looking for the walking street--a street that has shops on both sides with no cars allowed--but didn't know the name of it in Chinese. I wandered through a few department stores, and saw that blue was in this season:

Then as I was headed to one store, I saw that I had found walking street. It was a beautiful day, and several other people were on their way there:

I started checking out all the shops and let myself be lured into the back rooms by the guys wanting to sell me fake Adidas. (Really, I think they should save that for people who have never seen real Adidas gear.) I looked at a few shirts, and then finally found a nice stall with a nice lady. She suggested whatever I was looking at, but after trying on one shirt that I liked but was too thin, I tried on a different one that I really liked.

And do you know what the most amazing part was? I could understand the saleswoman's patter. "Oh, yeah, that looks good on you, don't you think? You know, we have it in pink, too, if you'd like. Although this blue is good, too. Do you like it? As the weather gets warmer it'll be good to have a shirt this weight because you can wear it just how it is, although if you want to put a sweater back over it you can too. So? I'll give you a good price, what do you say." When I was in Shanghai bargaining before the semester started, I would nod to all of this and just imagine what they were telling me. Now I was nodding with comprehension.

I decided that I would see how bargaining went. She started at 110 kuai, and I was proud that I actually thought that was too expensive instead of just knowing that that's what I should think. I had in mind 50, and after she came down ten or twenty, she asked what I wanted it for and I told her. She acted a little exasperated, but it was just part of the act. She tried to convince me the price she had was a good one--the tag had twice her starting price! she said--but I wouldn't be persuaded. Eventually she came down and I was extremely satisfied. I knew what the price should be and got it for that price. And spoke Chinese.

Here's me wearing the shirt. What do you think?


Sheri said...

You look so handsome- that shirt is just the right color for your eyes... wait, I'm starting to sound like a saleslady.
Congratulations on the progress you are making not just in your language, but also in your cultural adaptation. Wow.
You must really be growing up! lol. Happy Birthday.

Anonymous said...

After 3 years of waiting, you finally get another real birthday. Hope it's a happy one. Love you,
Grammy & PopPop

katiepenguins said...

*grins* I think you did well with picking the shirt. And great job bargaining! My grandparents took me to China a while ago and I let them figure all that out.