Despite all the posts about being in the Bay Area, I’m actually back in Guangzhou. It’s been quite a good “home”coming back to China. For the past three weeks, I’ve quietly passed my 29th birthday with loved ones, celebrated a belated and wine-heavy Passover Seder in good company, saw all the friends that I’ve missed for the past two months (making me realize how hard it will be when we actually move in two-and-a-half-months, eep!), drank too much for B’s 31st, wrote a few pieces for Honest Cooking and eChinacities, re-acclimated to humidity, copy-edited like a maniac, and generally have been getting back into the Guangzhou groove.
Part of the groove includes going back to the markets and visiting my old vendors I once frequented on a weekly basis. I often wonder if they think about me like I think about them. The ladies I buy greens and leeks and scallions from is the most friendly with me, and the first thing out of her mouth when I returned after my hiatus was,
“Were you back in America again?”
I guess they do think about me!!
The Chicken Lady, though less friendly, gave me a nod of recognition as she always used to and offered me the freshest chickens she had. And the Mushroom Girl, despite my enthusiasm for the basket of asparagus she had this time, did not give one lick about my presence. Even though I know she must recognize me, her feigned ignorance makes me wonder if she does not. At least it’s a familiar ignorance.
Left and right, these vendors greet me with the term “Pretty Lady” (美女). Technically, this is how the Cantonese address young women, much like we call young ladies “Miss”. To my ears, the direct translation always throws me off a little. “Pretty lady, would you like some spinach today”? “Pretty lady, which of these chickens do you want, the freshest one”? “Pretty lady, long time no see!! Those cucumbers in the front are the best.” Everyone calls me a pretty lady (everyone except Mushroom Girl).
It’s nice being back in Guangzhou.