Doctor Huang

October 25th, 2007

On the way into the market this afternoon I was accosted once again by the little, old but tough lady who tried to persuade me to stock up on haws lest my brain explode in a tangled mess of aneurysm soup.

She saw me coming as I turned the corner and headed down to the main gate of the market, where she was sitting on a stool at a table covered with her pamphlets and medicine. At first all I heard was somebody calling out “Hello! Ni hao!” in a slightly nutty voice, and I thought, oh no, one of them. Again. Then I saw her sitting there talking to somebody. What now? I thought. Is there another fruit with magic healing properties, or is she just determined to get me to buy half a ton of haws?

No, as it turns out, she’s selling medicine at the gate of the market, and she showed me some and told me how great it is for curing any ache or pain. It’s a medicated patch you stick on your skin, and the medicine soaks through your skin and magically cures you. Actually, it sounded like the kind of thing people twice my age (like the good doctor herself) would need. I assured her my health was fine, I have no aches and pains, and I have no need of her medicine. But she had to give me one of her pamphlets explaining all the virtues of her medicine, anyway, and told me to tell my friends. On the pamphlet she’d scrawled her name, 黄大夫/Doctor Huang, and her xiaolingtong and cellphone numbers.

Then of course she asked me if I liked the haws and whether I needed to buy any. She assured me they were only five kuai for 2 jin/1 kilo. I said I’d tell my wife. She, surprisingly enough, was fine with that and let me go on my way.

I mean no disrespect to Dr Huang, and I certainly don’t mean to make fun of her, but this is one of those bizarre experiences you’re guaranteed to have if you stay in China longer than a few hours. I have no idea what inspired Dr Huang to target me. I have no idea why or how she decided I must speak enough Chinese to communicate with her. I can’t figure out why she’s so keen to get me to buy haws (not her own haws, either) or why she decided I or somebody I know must be in need of this medicine she’s hawking. Of course, I’m naturally sceptical of any medicine being sold at a market gate- and not even in a proper stall, just at a table set up at the gate waiting for the chengguan to come and steal all her stuff (and the chengguan are unusually active in this part of town. And no, I have no respect for those thieving scum, regardless of their uniform or what legal powers they think they have). Part of the equation must be that she’s seen me in the market on a regular basis, even though I never noticed her until she told me I needed to buy haws to stop my brain exploding. Well, of course, I tend to stand out in that market, being slightly taller than most and pale-skinned and auburn-haired. Anyway, for whatever reason Dr Huang seems determined to befriend me, or at least to get me to buy somebody else’s haws and maybe also some of her medicine.

2 Responses to “Doctor Huang”

  1. John Says:

    I’m afraid that in the Pu Songling version of the story, your brain explodes, which should be a lesson to Westerners to listen to the Infinite Bodhisattva, Guanyin, when she appears to you in the guise of an aged Chinese woman.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Sorry, John, but I have a lot of trouble seeing Dr Huang as Guanyin. The Goddess of Haws and Dodgy Medicine, perhaps, but Guanyin she is not.And my brain still seems to be intact, so I’m ok.