Sunday, October 14, 2007

chinatown





Winter,* whose other interests include competitive Scrabble and trying to change the world, is on a personal mission to visit every Starbucks on the planet and has posted pictures of lots of them on his website. I find the one closest to the hotel and head towards it, noticing that with every block, there are fewer signs in English and more in brightly colored Asian characters that look like Chinese or, occasionally, Thai. In the second-floor windows, cartoon pictures of feet tell you where you can get foot massages and for how much. In a butcher shop, a row of roasted ducks with curved necks hangs upside down, their feet attached, somehow, to a wire.

The Starbucks turns out to be across the street from the Greedy Kitty restaurant, and next to an open air market, where Asian men are carrying boxes and Asian women are sorting through oranges, chestnuts, and plums. Because I don't see any stairs, I walk up the concrete ramp to a Starbucks that looks exactly like the Starbucks I stop at every morning on my way to work. I ask for a venti nonfat latte and sit down at a table to wait for my drink. Looking at my camera, the woman who took my order, comes over to stand next to me. She's short and fat, with a face the color and texture of bread dough, the only non-Asian person I've seen all morning. She asks if I'm from out of town. I say that I am and she asks if I'm a knitter. I tell her I couldn't knit if my life depended on it, but she's not listening. She tells me about a store that I can find if I take the streetcar two stops west and turn left at the light. There, on the first floor, is the place where they have the best selection of knitting needles in town and and sell skein upon loosely coiled skein of the softest, finest yarn you've ever seen, in every color you could possibly imagine.


*He notes: "My name is Winter. Only Winter. Past articles referring to a name other than Winter reflect inaccurate/imprecise reporting because they do not tell the whole story. Since most articles do not have space to tell the whole story, simply stick to this fact: my full legal name is Winter. Nothing else. Just Winter."

18 comments:

slouching mom said...

Life is so damn interesting. I'm glad you're paying such close attention. I enjoy seeing through your eyes.

Waiting Amy said...

I don't know how you find these things. But even more crazy is that I clicked over to his site -- and his latest update is posted from my (smallish) hometown. Weird.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

SM is right, you catch so much. Many of us might miss it if we're not careful.

Amelie said...

Why bother listening whether you're actually interested... but too bad I wasn't there.
Every Starbucks in the world, wow, and I haven't even been to all in BCN. Those red lamps are funny.

Magpie said...

So all tourists knit? You look like a knitter? That's a strange and beautiful interaction between strangers.

Lori said...

I wonder what about your camera caused her to make the leap to knitting?

I love the pictures, and I love that you share them with us.

Carole said...

Niobe,
OMG...you described this so vividly I felt like I was there. Nothing intresting like that ever happens to me. Looks like you're having an awesome time.
~Carole

Furrow said...

Maybe she was just so exciting about her new discovery that she just had to tell someone, and you were the first person she'd seen that morning to speak her language. I've been guilty of that sort of enthusiasm, myself. Interesting.

Beautiful shots, too.

Tash said...

ahhh, love the photos. Do you LOOK like a knitter? Maybe you just looked cold. After trolling around London where Starbucks seem to be there what Gap was to NYC in the 90s (e.g., every other storefront), my husband wondered if armegeddon occurred, and someone came down from another planet if they wouldn't think that Starbucks were churches and we worshipped the great god Latte. Have fun!

painted maypole said...

i love that they are eco friendly and using compact flourescent lights in the red lamps in china town.

missedconceptions said...

I had the same thought as Painted Maypole -- wow, how environmentally sensitive of them to use the compact fluorescents. I think a nice round retro bulb would look better, but they are not nearly as efficient.

My Reality said...

Perhaps you should have stopped at the store to pick up some knitting needles in case you needed them at some point to poke somebody's eyes out. Yes, I am a litte demented.

Jitters said...

Wait, was that my trip to San Fran or yours you were describing? Seriously, we have a VERY similar experience, except we were near the Williams-Sonoma Flagship store.

weird.

Aurelia said...

I am laughing that no one can guess where you really were!

Yes, we are rather cosmopolitan, aren't we?

passingwindows said...

I came here to see what photos you posted, love the newspaper one. I love foreign print in languages I cannot even begin to decipher. I don't know what to do with it but I just love it.

And as a recent convert to knitting, your description of the Starbuck woman's wool shop made my mouth water.

missedconceptions said...

I know (knew?) where you really were (are?), Niobe, but only because I did a reverse look-up on the area code printed on the "FOR SALE" sign posted on the restaurant that was next door to the restaurant of the beast.

Crafty use of the internet, yes?

missedconceptions said...

Actually, if I didn't sound like a crazed stalker, I could have even told you what block in the city you were standing on when you took that photo. Alas, that would make me sound like some sort of crazy stalker, so I will not do that.

BUT I COULD.

niobe said...

I wondered if anyone would check that area code. I actually thought about deleting it, but decided I didn't care that much.