Many years ago I backpacked through China.
When I went to the travel agent down a dark side street in Perth, Western Australia, he refused to sell me the ticket unless I went with two other women I’d never met.
This was irritating but if I was to go to China, I had no choice but to accept.
When I met these two women just over the border from Hong Kong, I still didn’t understand why it was necessary to have companions when I’d traveled alone for months until now.
In the evening, we wandered around and came upon a typical Chinese street scene.
Women riding bikes laden with food and live chickens. Wizened old men playing mahjong in the dust on the street. Clothes being washed, vendors selling food, men chopping wood.
As we walked by people would look.
We became aware of being followed.
Eventually our trackers got bold enough to come up to us. They surrounded us. Me specifically.
When I spoke, they ran. They weren’t threatening, we were way bigger than they were.
It was just strange.
This scene was repeated as we traveled around.
We’d walk in a room and people would stop and look. We’d be eating and children would crawl under the table and giggle.
Slowly it dawned on us. My companions, Australian-born, were from Chinese immigrant families. They spoke no more Chinese than I but they looked the part.
In these rural parts no-one had seen a tall westerner with blonde hair before.
People stared. They pointed. They talked to each other about me.
If they were really brave, they would ask to touch my hair.
A Chinese woman came up to me while I was walking along the Great Wall. She pointed to her family who were arranged in a group ready for a photo to be taken.
I went to take her camera so I could take a picture of them but she swung the camera away. She spoke in Chinese, I tried to take the camera, again she swung it away.
We tried this several times until she grabbed my wrist and led me over to her family.
She stuck me in the middle of the group and took a photo of us all.
It was one of the most bizarre situations of my life.
There we all were on a wall that had stood for centuries. One of the Great Wonders of the World. And they wanted to take a picture.
To them I was a rock star. A movie star.
Nicole Kidman, Madonna. A novelty. A freak. I don’t know.
Just someone who’d done nothing but who represented something.
I was relieved they just wanted a picture. I didn’t have to *do* anything.
Smile. Be nice. Be kind. Sometimes it’s that easy.
Who is happy to have you just ‘be?’ We need to be surrounded by more of these people.
We all need to be a star to someone.
So who are you a rock star to? Your kids? Your partner? A friend? Who can you be a rock star to today? Let me know in the comments!
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