27 May 2009


I bought a painting a few weeks ago, looking to do something about the very bare walls in my apartment. See the photo above. I think it’s a pretty cool painting, and at 400 RMB (about $50) for a 3 foot X 4 foot oil painting, you can’t really beat it. Notice the oh-so-subtle intersection of an image of Chairman Mao with the ubiquitous symbol of capitalism, the 12-digit UPC barcode. Anyway, the other day ayi was admiring the painting and asked me how much it cost. Oh no, it was really cheap I said, only 400 kuai, I picked it up while walking along Huai Hai Lu the other day, I said very casually. As soon as the words came out of my mouth it struck me, only the day before I had paid her 400 kuai. For a months work. Oops. What can you really say at that point? Oh, no, I mean I’ve been saving for many months for this. Yeah, right. So I guess it’s idiot comments like mine that fuel the notion among Chinese that all Americans are filthy rich and use $100 bills as toilet paper.

That brings up the whole subject of having an ayi (maid who does laundry, cleaning, dishes, other stuff around the house), but that’s another post. Anyway, the whole incident would have fit right in on the very entertaining (in the way that it is entertaining to watch others go down in flames) FML website, but I didn’t have the time to post it.

No comments: