Friday, 27 February 2009

Trade & Commerce

During my morning stroll around Kashgar, searching stalls for tasty treats (found walnut and date toffee - fantastic!) I had the usual conscience tweak (and trouser tugs) from the legions of beggars inhabiting the downtown area. In among them was an old boy who caught my eye. He was characteristically disheveled and needy, however he was sitting carving wooden spoons for sale. Not begging at all - selling something. He immediately got my money and I got four spoons.

As I continued I entered a street that was almost exclusively comprised of pigeon restaurants (where they're eaten rather than dining themselves, lest there be any confusion). This reminded me of an entire district of Changchun in Jilin Province given over to hairdressers and, more recently, a small nameless town in the desert where all shops but three sold decorative knives. Now, I'm no business guru, but if I were planning on entering the decorative knife selling business I would probably avoid opening a shop in this town. If I wanted to distinguish myself as a hairdresser, I'd do well to avoid competition, trust me.

Why do trades tend to cluster in Chinese towns? In a sea of pigeon cafes, I'll always go for the wooden spoons.

Eat up.

P.S. If anyone wishes to burst my bubble and has information about a wooden spoon scam, where innocent beggars are forced into selling wares on behalf of some evil oligarchic organised crime network - please keep it to yourself.

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