Train rule number 1: keep quiet
I made a huge mistake last night on the train from Shanghai to Suzhou. I was feeling tired and a bit fed up and all I could think about was to get out of my tight pants and high heels and into a pair of thick, soft socks and PJs… Since I didn’t want to end up at the end of the taxi line I went to line up by the door when the train approached Suzhou (2 years ago I used to laugh at those people lining up, thinking to myself: “Geez guys, relax for a bit! We’ll all get off eventually!” Now I am one of the first one by the door… ha! Talk about contradicting yourself!). On my way to the door I passed two middle aged Chinese men. As soon as I walked by I saw one of them notice me, openly push his friend and say something: “look, look at that laowai”-like. I ignored them, but since I had to stand next to them I couldn’t help but feeling annoyed over their staring and comments. It was “laowai this and laowai that” and then the constant and shameless staring. I simply wasn’t in the mood, so I lost my face and said (in Chinese):
-What are you guys looking at? (你们看什么？）
This comment obviously triggered an even bigger interest. At first, they went silent, played oblivious and looked away, but as soon as I got bored of waiting for an answer and turned my back to them, they started to repeat my sentence (with a fake, female voice):
-What are you looking at, what are you looking at?! Hihihihi, Laowai understands, laowai understands! What are you looking at!
I decided I had already said enough and since the train had come to a halt I quickly got off. Only though… so did the guys. And despite my quick march to the taxi line I couldn’t shake them off:
-What are you looking at?! Came from behind me. Followed by:
-Hello, hello! Miss, miss, hello!
Since I refused to turn around they eventually switched to English:
-Yeah yeah yeah… Hello hello!! Yeah yeah yeah… Hello, hello! (don’t ask me what the “yeah yeah yeah!” was all about? I am just as confused as you guys).
The comments didn’t stop until I finally escaped into a taxi and drove off.
MAN! That’s a mistake I’ll never do again! I know I should have known better. A countless number of Chinese speaking laowais have warned me NOT to try and confront people speaking about you behind your back. The speakers will just think it’s funny and will continue to tease you. Best thing is to play oblivious and pretend you are just a “stupid laowai who don’t understand.” Anyways, that’s what I’ll do from now on. Especially at late nights when I’m not in the mood for smiling.