Monday, June 22, 2009

Not your everyday inquiry

It’s nothing out of the ordinary to have people running after you on the streets of Shanghai.

-Lady, lady, do you want to buy a bag, bag, shoes, shoes, watch, watch? Cheap price only for you!!!!!!!

I’ve also experienced more original approaches. Like one morning at the Shanghai’s People Square metro station. I was walking briskly from line 1 to line 2, when a young, Chinese boy suddenly turned up next to me, looking at me curiously.

-Hello! I saw you on the metro! He said in English.

-Oh, well hello then! I replied.

-Where are you from?


-Welcome to China!

-Thank you very much!

-Do you like China?

-I love China!

-Good. Me too.

We were walking like that for a while, until he said:

-Your skin is so white. I saw it on the metro. It’s beautiful.

-Oh… eh.. thanks. Well I actually prefer you Chinese people’s skin colour. I don’t like the super white skin (it was winter –you could have taken me for a sheet!)

-Well I like yours. Can I touch it?



-Eh…. I’m kind of in a rush.

I tried to speed up, but when I did, so did he.

We did some insane speed walking for a bit, until I stopped and reached out my hand.

-Nice to meet you! Now I will go!

There. Skin touched and stalking stopped. Both happy.

However, what happened last week in Shanghai is something I have never experienced before.

I was walking in the French Concession (it was soon after lunch time) when I suddenly heard someone yelling:

-Xiaojie, xiaojie! (miss, miss!)

First I just kept walking, thinking they were calling for someone else. After all, there were many ‘xiaojies’ in the street.

Then I suddenly felt how someone approached me from behind and ran up next to me.

-Wait, xiaojie! Can you speak Chinese?! Said a fairly young, tall Chinese boy.

-Eh.. Yeah. What’s up?

-Oh, you can speak?! That’s great! You see, I have this problem.

As soon as I heard the word ‘problem’ (wen ti in Chinese) I started to feel a bit suspicious.

-Can you please help me? Please help me with my problem?

-Eh… I don’t know actually. I am kind of on my way to somewhere…
I tried.

-Oh, but if you don’t have time today it will be OK if you help me tomorrow? Tomorrow is good too!

-I won’t be here tomorrow, I don’t live in Shanghai.

-Oh so then please help me today!

-Well.. I don’t know. What exactly is your big problem?

The boy hesitated and looked a bit tortured. I was expecting him to ask for money at this point. I have heard of similar scams/real stories (what do I know?) of people coming up asking for money to help them or their family.

I looked at the boy again. He looked as if he was in agony. Maybe he has some health problem, I thought.

-My problem is about love! He finally said.

-Love?! Well then I don’t think that I can help you…

-I want to meet a girl!

-Well sorry, can’t help you.

-I want to be intimate with a girl! I want to be intimate with YOU.

-Ehh…. What?!

I stopped. He stopped too.

-I want to be intimate with a girl, I want to….

-Stop it, stop it. I am not going to help you with that, OK? Good luck!

-But please, please I need your help!

-Like really, stop!

The guy kept repeating his ‘big problem’ and I began to feel quite uncomfortable, and started walking faster. But he kept following me.

-Leave me alone! I said.

For a moment he stopped and I walked on. Then I realized that he was still following me, and after a while he even started running after me (I can walk quite fast when I need to).

-Wait, wait, I need your heeeeelp! He yelled.

I had to stop and cause a minor scene for him to get that I wasn’t interested. But as soon as I we caught some fellow pedestrians attention (with some screaming) he finally gave up. And I sped off in an immaculate speed.

Now THAT has never happened before.

And hopefully never will again.


le embrouille blogueur said...

Ouch ....not a good encounter from any angle ....I like your cold (yet polite) responses .....not easy to keep up with the manners when such proposals come your way ....!!

Mark's Blog said...

that's really a weird way to hook up, I mean, in a public square?!!

that boy must be desperate

Anonymous said...

Jonna, I hope you didn't make up the last story. It was weird. How old was the boy? I've heard of a medical condition as such. It happened with a college girl that I knew of many years ago in China. She had urges for men from sometimes and nothing would stop her when that happened. I mean she could be having lunch in a cafeteria and all of a sudden she wanted to get intimiate with men and then her body would tremble like having a stroke. School authorities had her roommates watch over her when she needed help. Any man taking advantage of her would be tried as a rapist. I recently saw a 12 or 13-year old at a church in the States who has a similar medical condition. He grabs girls' arms and doesn't want to let go.

Matthew said...

That's really creepy and rather disgusting. Where I'm from, that kid would've gotten smacked really hard, really quickly. I'm surprised you were able show as much patience as you did.

Jim said...

Sounds like he was full of hormones .... you could have made his day/year!

冰蓝 said...

I am ashamed of the boy, how can he speak like that to you! Was he insane or what? Next time when you walk in the street, try to avoid those suspicious-looking people. When encountering annoying people, we Chinese like to comment it using this phrase 林子大了什么鸟都有 (The wood has all kinds of birds)

Jonna Wibelius said...

le embrouille blogueur -no it's not.. Fortunately it doesn't happen on an everyday basis!

Mark -yeah, veeeery.

Anonymous -I never make up stories, then there wouldn't be any purpose with this blog.

I don't know how old he was... always hard to tell the age of Chinese people. But he def wasn't old. A young man in his early/mid 20ies I would say. Didn't look weird in any way. Just behaved weirdly.

matthew -I think I felt a bit sorry for him first because he appeared so confused and in such pain, but when he just wouldn't give up I ended up being a bit rude (yelling for him to stop bothering me in front of a bunch of other people so that he would feel ashamed and leave). Afterwards I actually thought to myself: "what just happened? was that a joke?!"

Jim -maybe? Although if he keeps trying to pick of girls that way he won't get lucky anytime soon.

Pingu said...


Bagman and Butler said...

Even Bagman was rather repulsed by that approach. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie? But stay brave. Encounters like this begin to make us want to stay indoors. Do you have pepper spray? Or maybe carry a bucket of icewater to pour over his head.

WoAi said...

Odd, whenever I try that approach I'm always successful, LOL!

I think he probably lost a bet with his friends and so he was the one who had to go up to the laowai and proposition you!

Actually have you seen the 2008 movie "A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures"? There's a scene where the guy does exactly that same thing because he took too many Viagra pills and has to have sex immediately. One girl said she was busy but would call him afterwards, so it DOES work sometimes!

Little Tiger said...

God loves a trier, but I think he tried a bit too hard...

Pete In Syracuse said...

You did good Jonna, don't ever let someone take that type of action with you. In the States for children they say to Yell Fire if someone tries to abduct them I think if someone was to try to grab you or harass you, LOUD is the answer. I think I would be kind of creeped out if I had, had two experences happen in a row like that too! You start to wonder if there is a sign on your back that says come and abuse me! You did do good in how you handled it though!

Emmy said...

Oh wow! That is just weird and yeah... very creepy.
Glad you are okay!

Annie Hall said...

hahaha that reminds me of an encounter I had in Shanghai once with a boy who looked about 15 years old. He was following me, offering me a foot massage or a back massage, and I was just trying to ignore him, but eventually I had to turn around and basically shout that I WAS NOT INTERESTED. I then turned and kept walking, expecting him to leave me alone. He took my lack of interest in a foot or back massage to mean that I WAS interested in "another kind" of massage... and continued to follow me, offering me a "Sex massage". They just don't understand...

Brad Farless said...

Wow! An Indecent Proposal! Ha ha ha!

Jonna, that's horrible. I've heard of white guys having "Asian Fever", so maybe he has "Caucasian Fever". Even so, I wonder what made him think it would be alright to just walk up to a woman, regardless of where she's from, and plainly ask for sex? What did he take you for?

As for the other person, simply asking to touch your skin, that's still a bit odd, but maybe a bit more understandable. Though, if you were in Shanghai aren't there plenty of foreigners on the street? You'd think a person in Shanghai would be used to it and not think it was such a grand thing that he would feel somehow satisfied just by touching your hand.

Brad Farless said...

The joys of being a white girl in China?

Didn't Jonna write a post at some point about how foreign women in China don't get much attention? I suppose there are exceptions to every rule.

m--e said...

I love it. You CAN'T make that kind of stuff up. It's a bit funny that you had to make him lose face in front of people to make him quit!

Sara said...

Ha ha ha!!! That boy truly is special. Sometimes I'm so happy that I can be anonymous in China, since I'm an expat Chinese! Although it's easier for Westerners to meet new people in China, at least I get to have my skin alone ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's terrible!! I never heard such creepy and insane story before. If I were you, I would find a safer place to live.

Emil said...

Pretty creepy, but it might just be him making a huge joke with some friends, in a bet or something.

TG said...

Really scary encounter. You handled it perfectly.

The Expatresse said...

A million years ago, I taught English in Taiwan. I had a colleague who, back in the US, once had a Malaysian student of hers appear at her front door.

Him: "I offer you . . . my wirginity."

Her: "WTF?"

Him: "Because you are American and divorced so it doesn't matter."

Her: "GET OUT!!!"

Jonna Wibelius said...

Love the reactions to this posts. Some think it's funny, some think it's yuk and some think he's trying to hard. When I told one of my friends the other day she said that there must have been a hidden camera somewhere filming it all.. well if there was I am sure they got some really good material!!