In the market half an hour ago, as I was walking away from my beer seller, an old lady grabbed a hold of me and started jabbering away. My reactions were a bit slow, concentrating, as I was, on getting my bike down onto the flat with out the weight of the beer bottles clattering around breaking the basket, but I got my wits back about me and figured out what she was on about.
She looked to be smack on retirement age (which is officially 55 for women in China), and was dressed in a white coat and those funny white hats Chinese doctors often wear. She was telling me that this fruit at the next stall was really good for the health. She said, it's called 大红果, and it's good for the blood vessels in the brain and... umm, a million other things that I can't remember right now. I wasn't entirely sure of all the medical terminology, anyway. But there I was thinking, isn't that a haw? How'd it get to be 大红果? And do I look like I'm about to develop some cerebro-vascular disease, or is she just trying to sell me haws, or is she concerned for my health and trying to sell me haws? Anyway, I said, alright, I'll go home and tell my wife, and if she likes this fruit, she can come back and buy some. No, she was having none of this. She insisted that I take one haw home to try. So there you go, just by being in the market at the right time, I got one free haw and some medical advice to go with my beers.But what I can't figure out is: Why today? Has this old lady seen me around the market and either decide from my frequent presence there or somehow overhear that I speak Chinese, and therefore decide to tell me how great haws are for your health? Or is this the first time she's seen me and did she just decide to seize the opportunity to sell some haws to the laowai who's brain is apparently about to explode in a collossal tangle of aneurysms, and assume that because I'm in China I must speak Chinese? Oh well, I don't suppose it matters, but I don't recall seeing her around the market before.