In which I am alternately terrified and terrifying - Tactical Ninja
Aug. 25th, 2011
07:00 pm - In which I am alternately terrified and terrifying
Sorry folks, I'm not finding time to comment much but I am reading! It's also weird breaking my 8 year habit of blogging between 9 and 10am. Nothing here starts before 10am (shops open about 10 and stay open till 10pm), so folks don't get up till 9ish, including us. By the time I get around to writing it's usually lunch time and that makes it about 4pm kiwi time and all my US friends are going to bed.
Why do I care? I dunno, except that apparently some folks set their watch by my daily posting. Sorry to mess with your body clock.
Anyway, today's mission was - shopping!
I actually tried shopping yesterday. There are some lovely cotton summer clothes here, the type I'd wear to festivals and the like, all quite cheap for sale in stalls on the Ladies' Market just downstairs. But these stalls have hundreds of items:
This is the entrance to the Ladies' Market. The black arrow in the top right corner points to Dr Wheel's apartment, on the 11th floor.
Anyway, as you can see you have to browse through the stalls quite thoroughly to see what's available. And here's where the culture shock comes in. You see in New Zealand, a browsing shopper is Just Looking. If they need help, they will look up and around, and an astute shop assistant will see this and come over to help. Approaching a shopper before they do this is the height of pushy rudeness and is likely to make the shopper uncomfortable. In my case I will often leave if a shop assistant does this.
In Hong Kong, being helpful is considered appropriate behaviour. The bag guy from the other day saw me looking at his wares and materialised about 6 feet away so should I need anything, he was right there. However many people take this to the extreme, and yesterday while I was browsing a stall, a woman materialised 2 feet away from me and started staring at what I was doing. I know that she was Being Helpful, but my cultural coding put her as Being Invasive. It made me extremely uncomfortable and I ran away. I expect that being a westerner (and a blatantly obvious one at that) brings out the Helpful in stallkeepers even more, and consequently this happens a fair bit.
I realise it's not up to me to explain my cultural code to them (in my native language, not theirs) so they can accommodate my wishes. That would be arrogant and rude. Therefore I have to get over myself and endure this freaky shadow that I acquire when I'm browsing if I actually want to buy something.
It probably doesn't help that I have this weird guilty feeling when I"m shopping for luxury items (and clothing counts as a luxury item since I am not in danger of freezing to death). Spending money on myself that is purely for decoration is a frivolous activity and my Yorkshire blood screams derision at me for it. Having someone else watching me do it feels quite a lot like having someone watching me masturbate. Someone that I haven't invited to watch, that is. *cough*
So anyway, I need to get the fuck over myself and go buy some pretty clothes damnit. Today is the day for that. I will be back later with a report.
LATER - SUCCESS!
No, that isn't an explosion in a hippy factory. It's 3 singlets, 3 pairs of pants, 2 dresses, 2 skirts and a thing that works as both a dress and a skirt, and 2 pairs of stockings because I remembered it's winter in NZ still. Total cost - $600HK which equates to just under $100NZ. I am sated. Also, I Baptism Of Fire'd myself by buying a bunch of stuff at the first stall I went to. The lady materialised and did things like sliding the hangers along the racks (this is actually hard because the racks are so full) and operating the hangars (which often have several items on them) in such a way that I could still get stuff off them. I think she was equal parts pleased and horrified - pleased at the amount of money I spent, horrified at my taste in clothes.
But I've tried it all on and it looks fine. Honest. And, I am now kitted out for summer festival and knocking-around-the-house clothes, and have somewhat overcome my fear of salespeople. I am wearing a wraparound hippy skirt that matches my hair ..
Hear that? That was the sound of Happy gasping in horror.
..and I love it. I will go out in public dressed like this. Just watch me.
Seen in a shop: shirt with the words PARIS, LONDON, MILAN, LOWER HUTT, NEW YORK. I would have bought it but it was a hideous batwing affair and ew. Also, I think I offended the shop assistant by laughing at it - how could she possibly know why that was funny? Anyway, when I went back past later the shirt had been removed. Oops.
Also, day 6 of not smoking. I am getting lots of positive reinforcement from Dr Wheel. He does the best kind!