“Can you take picture with me?” This is a question I heard more times than I can count. After some time, this question became one that I would rather hear opposed to the sudden flashes, the awkward stares and the desperate attempts to “get the shot” just before I cover my face. No, I am not a celebrity to anyone in the U.S.A. but in China, I was a superstar!!!
Dealing with this new found status was easy at first but strange. I thought it was cute and funny. I welcomed the pictures. I immediately understood that in Asia, the black population was slim to none. Some Asians have never been out of their country and that has increased their lack of seeing a variety of ethnicities. So to them, I was very unusual. Not only because I was black, but because I was a foreigner. So I embraced it! I posed for pictures, and I laughed when I saw the embarrassment on the faces of those whom I caught “sneaking” that shot”.
As you can imagine, there were times when this became very annoying and inappropriate. There were many times that the staring was so intense I had to pull out a mirror and look myself! There were times I saw people walk past, turn around and come back to stand and stare directly in my face! Then there were times when I just wasn’t “at my best” and I didn’t want to take a picture nor did I want a picture taken of me! How did I deal with this? Well, some days not so gracefully, and others like a champ! I have taken pictures of them, told them “no!”, and covered my face just before the close of the shutter. I had become pretty good at this.
My lesson: This experience was very interesting. I totally feel I got a glimpse of what celebrities deal with. It has made me more aware of those around me and become more sensitive when I hear stories of celebrities and the paparazzi. I have gained more knowledge of the culture in China and Asia as a whole. I have become more patient with others. I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin and realize that I have to love me regardless. This is travel and travel is me!