the people square

a community serious about adventuring

A Trip To The Wool Lady

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It’s five degrees, but the cold chills the bone. Soup kitchen windows sweat from the heat of bodies sitting down for lunch. There’s a lady selling ducks. Beside her cauldron of cooking water are live ducks and some boiled. Men sit on miniature-sized chairs playing cards. Guts colour the street where a man is gutting fish. The water at his feet is red. A cigarette hangs from his mouth as he removes fish heads with a machete. A little girl squats down relieving herself on a pile of newspapers. A group of taxi drivers has stopped for lunch and are shouting loudly at the bun vendor. They sound angry, but they are all smiling. This confuses me. A man towing a cart stacked with chairs holds up traffic filling the air with honks and beeps. This is the way to the Textile Market.

Reaching out and pushing aside the plastic car wash flaps of the market entrance, I make sure not let them swing back and hit Tara. The man in front of me hadn’t been so courteous. “Watch your bag” Tara reminds me. I pull my bag in close.

Like looking out the window of a moving car, stalls stocked with bags, shoes and fabrics flash by as the moving aisle of people rolls along. “Hi lady, watch, bag. Come look lady” says a man from somewhere I can’t see. It’s too late to turn back to see who had spoken. A thick wave of body’s was carrying us away and stopping would be difficult. Turning back to look I could only see Tara’s smiling face. “This is madness, and it isn’t even the weekend.”

A lady selling buttons sits on a wooden stool. A Tupperware container of half eaten rice and meat rests by her feet. Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas Baby” sounds on the crackling speakers and I am comforted by its familiarity. Suddenly Mariah is interrupted by a throat clearing hork and we watch as the lady spits on the floor. “Lovely” Tara says grimacing. “I just can’t get use to that” she adds.

Finding our place in another narrow aisle we are bumped and hip checked by shoppers. A hot flash rushes to my face. My irritation levels have reached their maximum.  “Aiyo” Tara says using her best Chinese to express her disapproval.

Finely knit items hang above the entrance way. A group of ladies have taken over the stall blocking our way in. We wait impatiently to enter. One of the ladies finally spots us through the dangling sheep’s wool ponchos. They move slightly allowing us to just barley squeeze by a wool stacked shelf. “Xie xie” I say politely, but this goes unacknowledged. We grab what we’ve come for and the wool lady punches in what we owe her on her calculator. The ladies still block the entrance. “Excuse me” Tara says, first to leave. The ladies don’t even move this time. “Let’s get the hell out of this zoo” Tara yelps. I agree.

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2011 by in Adventure, Asia, China, Images, Living Abroad, Markets, Shanghai and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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