If Cartier-Bresson were Asian

One hilarious consequence of living in a famous place is that tourists come and gawk at it for no end. I once remember living in a house which could be called kitsch, and almost every week we would see some people trying to photograph it secretly, although we never prohibited taking photos. (Far from it, my mom who was so proud of her latest architectural ‘find’ that she would even invite some of them in to show the house). And there was this man who came to measure the height and width of steps on the house’s stairs which he thought were so aesthetic.

For myself, I never see any appeal of that place then nor now do I now see the appeal of pictures of Stanford classes ‘in action’, which is what every tourist coming to Stanford seems to be doing these days. I have been a tourist throughout most of my life too, but you have to be a pretty hardcore (or nerdy) tourist to come out to Stanford, inconveniently placed an hour out of San Francisco. But everyday buses dump tonnes and tonnes of them on campus, mostly Asian couples in their late middle ages, enperilling campus bikers, making obnoxious little Vs with their fingers, and funding Stanford’s T-shirt industry.

I was sitting in my language class one day and a group of tourists popped up at the window and snapped our class-in-action. We saw that and laughed it off; they weren’t too pleased that they failed to capture ‘the decisive moment’ and one tenacious tourist returned some five minutes later to steal another snap–this time, only me, who so knew that that was coming, noticing.

Earlier today, I saw a little Japanese man running to photograph a Henry Moore on campus as if he feared the sculpture would run away. After he took the picture, I thought to myself, boy he must be feeling pretty foolish now, but he proved me wrong by running to the next tree and taking pictures of it.

I now understand how people in Bruges feel…


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