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August 08, 2008

Take Picture Please

After five weeks in China, I’ve appeared in dozens of photos with Chinese -- perhaps even 100 or more. I figured by now, with thousands of Westerners in the city, the excitement would have worn off -- but it seems that we’re in even higher demand than before. Wherever I go, from Olympic venues to the Great Wall, locals and Chinese tourists alike stop me, asking if I will pose for a picture with them.

But yesterday, it was a pair of Germans who were caught in the spotlight, drawing a significant crowd at Tiananmen Square. They weren’t celebrities, or athletes -- they weren’t even wearing a prized Olympic credential -- they were just there, sitting on the ground, trying to capture ambient sound with an audio recorder. Chinese lined up to have their picture taken with them -- the plainly dressed couple humored their new fans for about 20 minutes, with several failed attempts to stand up and walk away, before they eventually had enough time to escape.


If you’re dying to know what it feels like to be a celebrity, head to Tiananmen and stand in one place for a few moments -- or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, take a seat near a group of tourists, and watch the point & shoots and camera phones fly out of their holsters.


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I was in Beijing with my two small bi-racial children 20 years ago and we were actually followed by people at the zoo. It was very strange but if I spoke first to someone then there was a flood of questions about everything, and I do mean everything!

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