Mrs. Hau was in Hang Zhou desperately trying to buy a paint brush. It was late and New Year’s eve, and most of the cities traditional shops seemed to be closed. She walked endlessly looking for a simple Wen Ju Dian selling school supplies.
Exhausted with throbbing legs and an aching back, the visiting Mrs. Hau stopped at the New Goods Shop near the famous Western Lake district to inquire one last time if anyone knew of an open stationary store. The shop keeper was in the back eating dinner with her parents and two little dogs, but she jumped up wiping her mouth on her sleeve and cheerfully came out to assist this strange customer who clearly was not going to buy vegetables this late at night.
“No, I don’t think there are any shops that sell stationary supplies or things like that nearby.” She answered after a thoughtful pause. “What do you need exactly?”
“I need a brush to paint with.” Mrs. Hau sighed.
“Mmm, I am sorry I don’t sell supplies like that but if you give me a minute and I will find something for you that may help.”
She rustled about and came back with a brush for cleaning vegetables and Mrs. Hau instantly liked the look of it. It was well made with a handsome wooden handle and a leather cord to hang it. It had hard straight golden hog hair bristles. It was a quality vegetable cleaning brush the likes of which Mrs. Hau had never seen before. It would not work for painting any great works of art, but for touching up a spot of paint here and there it could work just fine.
“It's beautiful. I'll take it". Mrs. Hau declared as she picked out half a Yuan from her coin purse. "What’s your name?”
“Yo Jen, and yours?”
“You are very pretty Yo Jen and speak excellent English.” Mrs. Hau told her truthfully. “And you have been so friendly and helpful. This brush will work splendidly. Thank you.”
“Mei wen ti. Please come again. You are always welcome in my New Goods Shop. I like to stock things for my customers that are high quality but handmade,” She said pointing to the artfully arranged vegetables, cutlery and rice bowls. Mrs. Hau admired all the little treasures within, then clutching her brush, she stepped out to the street zipping up her coat against the wind which had suddenly come up off the lake. She looked back one more time at New Goods Shop of the Westlake District in Hang Zhou to make sure she would remember how to get back to it someday.
“Hau Tai Tai! Yo Jen called out as her customer was about to step into a taxi. “I forgot to wish you a Happy New Year!”
“And may you have a Happy New Year too!” Mrs. Hau chirped back.
~And so, in case you haven’t guessed, I am posting from Hang Zhou, here to set up the very first store for Bunnies By The Bay in China. The brush will work perfectly to touch up the knicks and dings sustained on our first day of business.