​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Missed Opportunities


      Last week I posted two of my favorite Liuzhou pictures. This week I’ll tell you about a couple of pictures I wish I’d taken but didn’t.
      Once I saw a street vendor, a middle-aged lady, park her pushcart near the entrance to a grade school in Liuzhou’s White Sand District. On her cart she had a wok (a cross between a frying pan and a pot, used for stir frying) heated by a propane gas burner. As I watched she stuck baby bok choy cabbages on kabob sticks, six per stick. Then she put three or four inches of cooking oil in the wok and started to deep-fry the cabbage kabobs.
      I was wondering who would buy the things when the grade school bell rang. Several hundred kids came running out and about 30 of them crowded around the vendor. She was sold out in minutes. I decided not to take a picture, for reasons I have long since forgotten. I realized too late that, without a photo, no American would believe that ten-year-olds would line up to buy cabbages as an after school snack. Moral: When in doubt, take the shot.

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      A few days later I was having lunch in a Liuzhou restaurant with a large picture window looking out on a driveway. Between bites of my hamburger I noticed a group of twelve twenty-somethings walking by outside. They were obviously a group because they were walking close together, but they weren’t talking to each other; ten of them were chattering away happily on their cell phones. I thought, what a great photo of life in today’s Middle Kingdom – but by the time I got my camera out, they’d already walked past.

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      Which reminds me, did you hear about the three archeologists who were discussing the world’s problems over beers in the Lijing Hotel? One of them, an American, was bragging about the great contribution to human civilization made by Alexander Graham Bell. His Russian friend replied that a recent archeological dig had discovered remnants of copper wire near Moscow, and they had been dated to the early 19th century, proving that Russians had invented the telephone before Mr. Bell had even been born. The third archeologist, a Liuzhou native, told his friends about a nearby dig in Guangxi province, in 17th century strata, which had found no wires at all. This proves, he announced proudly, that as early as the Qing Dynasty China had already invented the cell phone.

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