Bragging Rights

I had set a goal for myself to enter some photographs in the State Fair. To begin with, I was pretty darn pleased with myself when I sealed the package to send the pictures to the competition.

WooHoo! Second Place!

WooHoo! Second Place!

I was even more pleased today when I trekked to the fair to check out the photo exhibit, giggling inside when I saw that my image of a teahouse in the Yuyuan Garden in Old Shanghai had won 2nd place the black & white category. I just stood there with a silly grin plastered on my face, staring at the red ribbon on my picture, and stopping random strangers to tell them, “That one is mine!”

Someone bought this picture!

Someone bought this picture! My first sale!

My grin grew bigger as I made my way through the other displays to the large color prints. Wow! All of my submitted photos are on display, which is an honor in itself because only those pictures awarded a certain score are exhibited.  My grin broke into a huge smile when I saw the Big Blue Ribbon on my cityscape that indicates that the picture sold.

The reflection of trees in water was hung upside down, but I think I like it like that. The old shoes, one of my favorites, earned a respectable score.


They hung this one upside down (like this) and I think I like it that way.

They hung this one upside down (like this) and I think I like it that way.

This has always been one of my favorites.

This has always been one of my favorites.

A Woman Alone in Shanghai

Old Shanghai is a Disney-esque maze of shops with Ancient Chinese architectural facades. It’s a cacophony of bright colors, exotic and familiar tastes, enticing aromas, glaring sounds, inexpensive (cheap) gifts for the family back home, and high quality merchandise.

The sales people work hard to lure the tourist into their shops with tantalizing promises of bargains and beauty and to insure that she doesn’t leave empty-handed. 

I was looking for black pearl earrings to match the necklace I’d bought at the Summer Palace in Beijing last summer. I soon learned that the casual perusal of the jewelry counters was anything but casual. The pretty young women were ready with their calculators, offering one gem after another.

I gave up my quest for the black pearls when I realized that I could not determine if the pearls were authentic or if I were about to pay a fair price or an absurdly high price for fake pearls.

I decided that the one gift I wanted for myself would be wind chimes.

I looked in every likely shop. I asked in many shops … that was sometimes quite humorous as I attempted to mime the movement of the chimes and mimic the light airy melodies.

Thanks to a group of tourists from Germany, I found help from a nice woman who volunteers as a sort of guide in Old Shanghai. I breathed a deep sigh to find someone who understood me and could communicate with me.

She directed me across the street, into the gritty markets.

I admit that I was just a bit apprehensive because I was alone and obviously a tourist…my appearance screaming white senior citizen.

I kept my bag and camera close to my side as I pretended to know what I was doing. (Possibly my concerns were unnecessary.)

I walked up and down several streets, asking in one shop after another. A few shops sold wind chimes, but they were huge and absurdly expensive…the kind you’d hang in a Buddhist Temple, I thought.

Finally, just as the light mist turned to serious rain, I found my wind chimes deep inside the maze of shops. Of course, my casual inquiries about price produced a flurry of activity as this gentleman brought down one chime after another.

After at least 20 minutes of negotiating, I purchased the wind chimes. He tried hard to sell me more merchandise, telling me that this bell would bring good luck or that statue would attract money into my life. He seemed flattered when I asked to take his picture and posed for my camera.

A perfect ending to my afternoon alone in Old Shanghai.

As I sit at my computer back at home, this all seems surreal. Was I really there? Did I actually walk these streets by myself? Did I communicate with people even though neither of us spoke the other’s language. I must have. The pictures are stored on my computer and the wind chimes now hang on my patio, gifting me with light tinkling music when the breeze gently wafts across my patio and delighting me with a symphony during a storm.

Garden Peace

The Yuyuan Garden in Old Shanghai

I like this image, but the original just didn’t do anything. The colors are washed out — the garden is old and the colors actually are faded and worn. The images was just too “OK.” I think it makes a stronger statement in black & white.

Old Shanghai Garden