Foreign Beyond


Turpan, China

July, 2012

At the Turpan bazaar... children rode three-deep on single-seat scooters through a maze of madness, around overflowing fruit carts that were in turn pushed haphazardly by old women seemingly immune to the inherent dangers surrounding them. Stray dogs ran through hagglers' legs, babies cried and music blared from every possible direction. It was fascinating madness and I parked myself on an overturned milk crate to soak it in.

I didn't want to call attention to myself as the only waygook in what I imagined to be a thousand mile radius and so my Australian fedora was pulled low over my brow. With the moon shades and beard, I hoped I might almost look inconspicuous. At the very least I hoped I could get away with snapping a couple photos unnoticed.

Berries sold at market
The good stuff

No sooner had I steadied the Canon, though, than an elderly gent with an eye patch emerged from some angle, snatched my camera from my unsuspecting hands, and began gesticulating wildly as if he was overdue for an emptying of the tanks.

I was altogether flabbergasted but I also didn’t want to cause a scene where one might not be needed. The one-eyed bandit backtracked while smiling broadly and, as I stood, he stopped and then steadied his hand and the camera on a parked cart. He pantomimed some more, I removed my fedora and attempted a smile and he pushed some buttons- none of which, I'd learn later, released the shutter. Then he returned my camera, still grinning like a madman, and disappeared back into the chaos.