- Posted May 6, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
Tasting Chocolate in Guangzhou
It is only in Guangzhou where chocolate tastes bitter. Under the envious eyes of his peers, Abimbola headed to China, leaving his homeland with a piece of green-shaded paper in his hands. He was driven by the dream of getting rich. At the exact same time, that same piece of paper caused Babajide a lot of trouble. He had lived in Guangzhou for more than 30 days.
Chidubem survived in this land of gold by helping people like Abimbola and Babajide. He had helped people like Abimbola find accommodation, and extended people like Babajide’s paper. Even with such help, chocolate still tastes bitter.
Abimbola quickly learned that he had to go everywhere by bus and train. Mr. Lee refused to take him because he thought Abimbola was too big for his taxi to contain him. So did Mr. Wang. He said he could not drive Abimbola around the city since they spoke different languages. At that time Abimbola was grateful Baohan Zhijie was located not far from Xiaobei.
Babajide had tasted much more bitterness. Everywhere he went, he knew that suspicious eyes were always on him. A shopkeeper even dared to ask him to show his visa upon his arrival at a café. It was a little café in the corner of an infamous shopping centre.
Across this café, Babajide saw a pile of jeans stacked high in a display cabinet. Since jeans were one of his commodities he quickly stepped into the store. There was only a person inside, Xiao Ma. Babajide didn’t know any Chinese except for the word “Ni Hao”, but this didn’t hinder him in doing business. He was familiar with such situations. A calculator can act as the lingua-franca he thought. After greeting Xiao Ma he slowly stepped closer to the girl’s desk to get the calculator she offered. Then, he pressed some of the numbered keys.
Watching the digits on the screen, Xiao Ma’s heart grumbled. She knew Adam and Amber wouldn’t dare to mention that, and it was too bad that both of them no longer lived in China. Firmly she said, “Bu keneng,” then replied with some other numbers. Xiao Ma didn’t bother to learn English; her time was worth running her business, not learning a foreign language. Babajide didn’t really understand the meaning of Xiao Ma’s word, but he knew that was also a typical response in any business bargain. He simply flattened his right palm then waved it down against the calculator. Xiao Ma understood what her buyer wanted. She replied by pressing other numbers. This process repeated itself until they both agreed on a price.
Carrying those pairs of jeans in his hands while walking to find other stores, Babajide’s steps were halted by a headline in the day’s daily newspaper in a newsstand. He could subtly recognize that the people in the big picture were Dakarai and Ekwueme. There were two policemen in their blue uniforms talking to them. Although he could not read the paper, Babajide understood perfectly what was going on. Those policemen were not just having a friendly chitchat with his fellow businessmen. The day before Fungai had told him that policemen were on duty,# and he needed to prepare in case he had planned to go out. Fungai himself didn’t feel well that day, therefore he decided to stay in his room. At that time Babajide was thankful that he knew Chidubem well.
Glancing at that picture made Babajide unconsciously move his hands across the pairs of jeans that he had just bought. He started to count. One, two, three….nine. No way, he thought. Then he started to count again. The answer was still nine. He counted once again, but still there were only nine pairs of jeans. He was sure that he had bought ten. Quickly he rushed back to Xiao Ma’s store.
When Babajide arrived there, Xiao Ma was out for lunch. Instead, it was her brother, Xiao Yang who was there. Using his broken English, Babajide tried as much as possible to describe what had happened and asked why there were only nine pairs of jeans instead of ten. Xiao Yang spoke a little English. However, he was still barely able to explain to Babajide that all items bought were under the responsibility of the buyer, and there was nothing he could do to help Babajide. He also tried his best to make Babajide understand that there was a possibility that Babajide had dropped one pair of jeans during his walk.
Babajide knew that there was no point in arguing with Xiao Yang. Slowly, he left. Walking along the same alley, his mind wondered, “Africa does not have any factories, that’s why me and my fellow businessmen travelled to Guangzhou. We buy goods here, then sell them back in our homeland. Some of us even dare to leave with a one way ticket and insufficient funds to buy the return one. Either it is an act of courage or something illegal, I don’t know. If only people were more concerned about investing in Africa and opened factories there, rather than arguing over the proper procedure to legalize our stay in another land, as well as who is right or wrong in such a situation, probably we don’t have to mine that gold this far.”
• The opinions expressed here are solely that of the writer’s and do not represent any groups. The African names here don’t refer to anyone in particular, rather they were chosen alphabetically. The Chinese names are the most frequent Chinese names used around the world.
A bridge that can be regarded as one of the entrances to the region.
A familiar scene over the bridge.
Another entrance to the region.
One of the Muslim restaurants, located in a narrow alley.
A Muslim footstall and the sellers.
Xinjiang bread, one of the Muslim foods sold in the region.