The Day I Lost my Face

Face is an Asian and Chinese concept, and losing face is not a good thing. It involves things like feeling embarrassed, being showed up by other people etc. Like if a couple went on a date and the girl paid for dinner, the guy would have lost his face, because traditionally, it should be him paying.

So last week I lost my face…

I’d been on a day trip with my friend Marisol to pick waxberries in her hometown, 千岛湖, which is a beautiful part of Zhejiang, with a huge river created when they built a dam. It’s green, leafy and the air is fresh. We picked waxberries from the little island her father owns as it’s now the season for them. The dark ones are sweet, but the others can be bitter. I ate quite a few while we were picking them and late that evening, Marisol gave me a basket to take home.

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Waxberries don’t keep too well, so you need to eat them fast. I’d already eaten enough that day, so on my way back to my house, I passed by my 兰州拉面 restaurant (a Halal noodle restaurant that’s popular in China). The owners are always very friendly to me and specially make me noodles depending on how I’m feeling.

I saw the man outside and offered him the waxberries. He said no thanks. I said go on, just have a couple, we just picked them from Thousand Island Lake. He refused again. I was like please, there’s too many for me, just take some. He refused again, so I walked away. Half way down the road I realised why he’d said no…

It’s Ramadan and it was still daytime.

I definitely lost my face, and haven’t returned there since.

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