Most Decembers, I go to Chinatown with my Mom to get stocking-stuffers. With a few hours between the early Friday closing of the Foundation Center and my movie excursion with my brother, I decided to wandered around Chinatown by myself today.
Chinatown is one of the places in San Francisco where I am most comfortable–I know where to eat, where to buy jewelry and pots and dollhouse furniture and silk scarves. It is where I first saw haggling.
Which is why it was not until deep into junior high that I began associating China with the communism most adults seem to reflexively remember. My most immersive experiences with Chinese culture was in Chinatown, which is a nearly pure free market in both senses. The food prices are rock-bottom, the competition for tourist eyes and shopping feet is fierce, and everyone sells and buys socially.
Chinatown in San Francisco is unlike any other neighborhood I have visited; the closest is Souq Waqif in Qatar. Part Disney-fied for tourists, part cultural heritage and active market, all chaos; Chinatown is San Francisco for me.
“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”–Franklin Pierce Adams