They always look so innocent

“Look at my flying dragon!”


Plastic connected loudly with glass. My knees buckled and my heart literally fell to the floor. My camera lens was just attacked by a cheap plasticsaurus.

Wide-eyed at what he had done, he leaned in and stuck his index finger, which was previously exploring his nostril, most liberally I might add, right on my lens. All I could hear in my head was a long and protracted, “Nooooooo!!”

6-year old Xiaorao (or as I jokingly misinterpret his name as “Small detour” (小绕) – same pronunciation, different meaning) then laughed madly and ran away, disappearing into whatever evil lair I now firmly believe he belonged to.

His grandfather, who had only moments ago, so kindly showed me around the longtang, looked worryingly at my camera as I gingerly inspected the lens for scratches.

Then in the most serious manner, he said, “If you like, there is a shifu* round the corner who fixes watches. Maybe he can take a look.”

* Shifu (師父) is a respectful and common form of address, nowadays in China, for persons engaged in skilled trades, such as drivers, cooks, plumbers, artistes etc.

December 2009



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