I have had some very strange interactions with people here in China. First, even though it is considered very rude to stare here, people stare at me (and any other alien) all the time. I watched a lady on a bicycle almost ride into the gutter because she was staring at me so hard. Unlike the US, it is pretty unusual to see people of different races here. So I guess novelty rates over rudeness. Most of the time I don't mind. I smile and wave at people. Occasionally, like when I am trying not to make a fool of myself on roller skates, it really bothers me.
Yesterday, I had a strange interaction. A mom and a little girl came up to me. The girl, about 6, was on a scooter. Mom said something to her and she stuck out her hand and said, "Hi, how are you?" I was a bit surprised, but when I shook her hand and said, "Hi, I'm fine. How are you?" She scootered away as fast as she could! I think mom must have been making her practice.
I had another child, a boy probably about 3, take one look at me and start crying. Now, admittedly, a bee could have stung him, or something, at that exact moment; however I suspect he just thought I was terrifying looking. My father might be used to reactions like that, but I'm not.
I also made a new friend yesterday. A girl in the 2008 all English medical class came up to me, introduced herself and told me, "I would like to be your friend." The directness was unique and pleasant. So, I now officially have a Chinese friend. She later emailed me and said that her friends want to be my friend too, so it looks like I will soon have more friends. This is wonderful, since I could really use some help with translations...I cannot tell you how hard it is to find the right cleaning product when you can't read the labels.