A fortnight ago in Beijing I had to farewell a pair of pants. They had served me well, through half a year back in Australia plus almost the entire length of the trip. But they were ragged, full of awkwardly position holes right around the crotch area, and worst of all they smelt funny. Reluctantly I threw them out, and headed out to one of Beijing's classiest stores, The Henderson Centre, to buy a replacement.
Unfortunately for me, I'm a big guy. There's no escaping the fact that my size is at the extreme end of the spectrum for most clothing stores. You can chose whichever euphemism you like - large, generously proportioned, weighty, voluptuous (okay, I haven't heard that one directed personally at me, but you get my drift). Buying good clothes is tough in Australia, but here in China it is almost impossible. As I entered The Henderson Centre, a Myers-esque department store in the city, I browsed from outlet to outlet, with everything looking far to slim for my build. Each time I would approach a sales assistant, and indicate that I was after some pants, and they would giggle in that slightly humiliating way, that made it sound like I'd just requested to eat a Peking Duck through my nose, or something equally as absurd. Three or four times the routine would be the same - after they'd overcome their amusement, they'd measure me up, offer me a few pairs to try on which were clearly too small, apologise when they didn't fit, and would then send me on my way.
After much browsing, the choice ended up being between a pair of ski pants, designed to keep me warm in extreme climates, but look insanely ridiculous in any normal climate, and a pair of up-market black pants that would be well suited to a spot of ball room dancing. Alas, I chose the latter, and headed to the door... to find a ball room.
Just today, two weeks after I bought the pair, they tore in half across the buttocks. I think this says more about the appalling state of Chinese clothing than it does about my buttocks, although both are in dire need of improvement.