by an uncharacteristically impulsive buyer
“In God we trust”, the official motto of the United States and emblazoned on their currency as a daily reminder, has its counterpart in China. Here bus stops routinely declare:
Aha, education is the answer to the world’s ills, a common misconception that with the right knowledge, we will be saved.
And in the meantime, there’s the other answer, already long-accepted in the West and becoming increasingly familiar in the East……in all the subway stations Glory Mall advertisements promise “The paradise of colorful shopping. One-time aesthetical experience of consumption.” If we can just buy enough, we will be in heaven.
And so we went shopping. Actually, we were always planning on a wee shopping expedition in Beijing as the little boys had not yet procured “dragon shirts”, which they had been hoping for. Checking out local shops when we arrived had proven unsuccessful and there were some despondent faces when they realised time had run out. You see, today was supposed to be Visit The Forbidden City Day, but with a couple of family members feeling under the weather and preferring to spend the morning at home, the Forbidden City became the Abandoned City and the clothes hunters took their one-time opportunity for an aesthetical experience of consumption. But not at GloryMall.
We transported ourselves across town on the fast, efficient, cheap go-anywhere-for-two-yuan (NZ 50 cents) well-signposted bi-lingual easy-to-use subway….to the Pearl Market, where we had been assured we would find all manner of clothes, including dragon shirts. Ask and it shall be given unto you! We came away with dragon shirts, long-sleeved shirts for the girls who needed them, a t-shirt for little boy who had accidentally ripped his, a pair of replacement socks for a Daddy whose favourite pair is riddled with holes and a replacement shirt bargained for by a boy and purchased out of his own money, because he had intentionally ruined a shirt in order to get a new one.
It might have seemed like paradise if we hadn’t had to “haggle like hell” (to quote Lonely Planet). There was a huge range of goods and sellers were keen to part with them, imploring you to “Step inside lady, have a look” “Small i-phone, you want which one?” “Please lady special price” “Children’s watch for you” “I have t-shirt, how many you buy?” “North Face jacket for you lady” “Underwear, you need new underwear”
In just two hours of crowd-jostling and hard-bargaining we were done, we had consumed, we were ready to leave Utopia and head back to the Hutong.
Such success raised everyone’s spirits (maybe shopping really is an elixir) and the decision was made to sneak in a quick visit to the Olympic Buildings. Smallest family member refused to put her boots on, so Mama none-too-reluctantly agreed to remain at home with her. (So often her whining is met with lollies here, so it was beneficial to be able to provide a less desirable consequence for a change). Mama and Baby then zipped out to buy gloves, but came back with jeans! When a shop assistant measures your waist, scrambles around in a pile of plastic bags on the floor under a display and brings out a pair that you insist is too small….but she insists more vocally that they are stretchy and will fit (at least I think that’s what she said)…..you try them on and they *do* fit…..well, what would YOU do? You’d buy them. Especially when they cost under NZ$8 and the skin-tight pair you left home with are hanging saggy-elephant-baggy on you now. So I splashed out in glorious consumption.
But that’s not the only shopping we’ve been doing. Last night we made our biggest purchase ever (apart from houses). Without even seeing the item, we bought something mechanical (ie has the potential to break) from someone we don’t know who lives in Germany and will take our money now. We’re trusting she’s not Nigerian!
Crazy? Maybe. Stupid? Quite possibly. Downright dumb? We’ll see. Completely Idiotic? Time will tell. But, worst case scenario, we’ll have a roof over our heads in Europe! Ideally, it will even take us many adventuring miles.
We had been watching motorhomes on E-bay for months, having ascertained that this was going to be the most fiscally responsible way to go (responsible – hmm, yes, well maybe buying a motor vehicle sight unseen does not fit with that descriptor). Last week we saw the best one yet in terms of layout, in a can-hardly-get-better-for-us location, at a price that was not too far beyond our budget….after getting the go-ahead from a GermanKiwi friend, who assured us the fine print contained no surprises, we emailed the Seller and asked if he could hold it for us for six weeks, whether he would be willing to sell to us (some haven’t been up til now) and all manner of little questions that Seemed Necessary To Ask To Make Us Feel A Little Responsible. Everything came together positively. The only factor holding us back was (as usual) the price. Should we use the SOFORT KAUFEN (BUY NOW) and perhaps pay more or bid on the auction and maybe get it at a lower price – or possibly miss out if bidding went too high or someone else snaffled up the buy now bargain? So we slept on it. By the morning we realised we would be more disappointed at missing out than paying a wee bit extra. So we hit SOFORT KAUFEN.
But we were not entitled to buy as we were registered in New Zealand. AAGGHH! The time difference meant Seller was tucked up snugly in bed, blissfully unaware of our predicament while we were trying all manner of options to overcome this obstacle, attempting worldwide solutions, with not a skerrick of success. When we had exhausted all possibilities we hit Tiananmen Square and put das Womo out of mind.
Fast forward to the afternoon. Come home. Check computer. No word from Seller. Another bid is placed on the auction. Spend afternoon checking email again and again and again and again!
Go out for dinner.
Return. Bidding is heating up. Eleven other people want this baby! Check email. Seller has been able to fix the we-live-in-New-Zealand-problem, allowing us to “click”. Without further ado, without leaving time for second thoughts or are-you-sure-s or do-you-really-think-we-should-s, we SOFORT KAUFEN. Wir haben ein Womo gekauft!
We trust it’s not a lemon.
Any ideas what we should call her?
The latest addition to the family was called “Dumpling”,
so we are obviously in need of some assistance!
(that was a soft toy dog, not a baby – heehee)