Subway encounters

16 Feb

I was meeting folks for dinner one evening and needed to take the subway after work, which I pretty rarely do these days.  I was in a good mood despite the mad rush of people at 6 o’clock- lots of positive things have happened lately – and it must have showed in my face.  I was waiting to transfer to line 2 at the People’s Square station when an average sized man walked up to me and said in English, “I am from North Korea.  What country are you from?”

I was pretty taken aback and just looked at him.  He asked again.  I said, “I live in Shanghai.”  He then tried to hug me.  At that point I was so shocked that I kind of half shook his hand and then took off towards the other end of the station.  Luckily he didn’t follow me.

After a great dinner, I headed home.  I had just switched to line 8 when I noticed a girl in a sparkly pink coat reading a book across from me.  I guess I must have smiled at her because all of a sudden she asked, “”What country are you from.  Do you speak English?”  I said yes and then asked her if she was studying.  She moved into the seat beside me and over the next three stops tried to convince me that we could become friends and I could help her with her English.  My stop came just in time!

Ever had a “subway encounter?”

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5 Responses to “Subway encounters”

  1. Mona March 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Last summer, when we were in Shanghai, we were frequently approached on the subway or the streets because we are so obviously American. We were delighted to meet and talk with anyone because everything captivated us and we wanted to learn as much as possible. However, I believe that if I were living in the city, I’d do just as you did and avoid encounters with strangers.

    Are you from Shanghai?

    • gkm2011 March 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      I’m actually originally from a small town in Michigan, have lived in Spain for a year during university, lived in Chicago 6 years and then now I’ve been living in Shanghai for four and a half years. At this point Shanghai is home, but not where I’m “from.” Thanks for the comment.

      • Mona March 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

        I got the impression that you are from the states. I am originally from Indiana, my younger son lives in Chicago, I spent time in Shanghai last summer and will again this summer.

  2. sarahinguangzhou April 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    nice post. I also seem to be a target for anyone who can speak English, who usually just come and ask for my phone number. When I first got to China I was a lot more friendly. After a while I got a little tired of being expected to give free English classes.

    • gkm2011 April 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      That did seem to happen to me more at the beginning too. Now that I have a “work routine” that is more normal hours and don’t ride the subway that much it has definitely reduced.

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