China Elevator Stories

“Is Your Hair Dyed Or Is This Your Real Color?”

I chat with a young female massage therapist in Shenzhen.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


After talking about family, work and education, we switch to yet another topic.

She says: “I think that foreigners are really cute. They are open-minded and easy to get along with, unlike many Chinese who like to keep their distance. Foreigners are usually really nice, especially the girls. The guys, well, I once came across a guy who asked about the way in English, but I can’t speak English and I felt a bit intimidated because the way he said it sounded so harsh.”
I tell her: “It really depends on the person. There are also many nice guys.”
She replies: “Maybe. I haven’t met many foreign guys, and I don’t really know. But the girls, they are really nice – and pretty. I once had a Russian customer, her skin was so soft and thin that I was afraid to even touch her. Your skin is more like our skin, but hers, well, it’s hard to describe, in the end I asked another woman working here to do the massage, I was afraid to hurt her.”
“That’s funny.”

She switches topic and asks: “Is your hair dyed or is this your real color?”
“That’s my real color.”
“I love the color of your hair. I once wanted to dye my hair exactly this colour, but the outcome was not nearly what I expected it to be.”
I answer: “I didn’t even know there is a color like this for dying your hair. I never really liked the natural color of my hair, it looks so bland. We don’t usually deem this color to be very special in Austria.”

She looks curiously at my ears and goes on: “Have you ever had earrings?”
“No, never. When I was little I wanted to have earrings, but my mother wouldn’t allow it. When I got older I wasn’t too eager about having earrings anymore.”
She tells me, showing me her ears: “I have quite a few ear piercings.”
“You do have quite a lot.”
“I have six on the right side and three on the left side. I’d like to get even more on the left side. Is it true that many foreigners have nose piercings?”
“Yes, there are quite a few who do.”
She asks me: “Would you want to get a nose piercing?”
“Not really, I imagine that it would hurt when you have a cold and use tissues to whipe your nose.”
“I think nose piercings really look nice. How about the tongue?”
I reply: “Some also have tongue piercings. Or a piercing above their lip.”
“You’re right. It’s really common for Indian women.”

She then looks at my trousers and says: “Your trousers are really individual. Did you design them yourself?”
“I wouldn’t call it design. We once made a wall painting in my company and when we were done with it, we used the colors that were left to paint on my trousers.”
“Which kind of colors did you use?”
“I’m not sure what they are called in Chinese.”
She tells me: “When I was younger I liked to cut holes into my jeans. My father didn’t understand what I was doing. He thought it was a real waste to buy trousers and then cut holes into them. But I liked the style. I also really like your trousers, maybe I’ll make trousers like this too.”
I say: “Just make sure the colors are water-resistant.”
“I will.”

Have you ever had an inspiring conversation with somebody much younger than you?

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