I went to the dollar store a few weeks ago in preparation for my return. I mainly picked up stuff from their Canada collection. It is always fun to give someone a key chain or a pencil that is symbolic of where I live. The one thing I have to watch for though, are the items that come marked “made in Taiwan” “made in China” “made in Indonesia”. Almost everything you buy in the dollar store is made in one Asian country or another. I try to buy the ones that have it written on a removable sticker so my friends here won’t know. The irony is not lost on me, that these cheap little gifts are made in the east, shipped to the west and then hand carried back here to the east.
It wasn’t as funny yesterday when I gave one of these key chains to this lady who has become my friend. She held the key chain in her hand, rocking back and forth, muttering “oh my, oh dear”. When I asked what was wrong she started to cry and said “such a great gift. I have never owned something for a foreign country before. Oh, thank you, thank you.” She then took the key chain and touched it to her forehead, which is a way the Uyghur people honour a gift and the person who gave it. She seemed so impressed with the small token of my homeland that there is no way I could have told her it was really an Asian gift, which had been just temporarily for sale in the North America.