New camera

My mother, a veteran of two trips to China, warned me that my big SLR camera would be unwieldy in China. Cousin Roy and his Chinese friend Michael were of the opinion that one should probably not be taking pictures directly of the faces of Chinese people, which is only common courtesy.

So, I went out and bought a point-and-shoot camera from the girl below.

I would have been ripped off blind, but for Michael, an experienced negotiator. Bargaining is a way of life in China, so he started gibbering with her and we got some knocked off the price of a Canon. In the end, the price was similar to what I would have paid in the United States. Some things are a bargain in China, others are more expensive.

However, the way Michael got the price down was interesting. There are several levels of purchase. If you are a tourist, you pay full-price. And you get a receipt. If you are willing to go without a receipt, then the price goes down--because you can't bring the thing back if it breaks down.

So, Michael negotiated a no-receipt price, and then immediately negotiated the right for us to bring the camera back in a few days if it didn't work.

Okay, now time to hand over the cash. We had to walk with the girl to the cashier, who counted to bills at least six times and inspected each one for counterfieting. Then we went back to the camera department, finished the purchase, laughed with the staff through Michael's translations, and then completed the last ritual of the purchase: Walking to the front door where a different woman yet gave us a plastic bag so we could get out the door with a camera but without a receipt.

Got that?

It wasn't a few minutes later and we were on a subway. I spotted this beautiful girl across from me who I wanted to photograph. I didn't know how to work the camera. I was fiddling with it, and the flash went off. This was the result.