One afternoon a couple of years ago, my son asked me to take him and a few of his friends to San Francisco Chinatown. Because they were way too cool to be seen with anyone of my generation, I had a couple of hours to shoot some photographs.
I stopped dead in my tracks when I came upon this window:
I don't play any musical instruments but I dearly wanted to step inside to quell my curiosity. What would I say if they asked me if I needed any assistance? "Yes, I'm in the market for a lion dance costume."?
Fortunately, the shopkeeper was already busy with a customer.
This girl reminds me so much of my Chinese classmates when I went to school here in The City. Many spent their after-school hours in their family's shops and restaurants where they were safe, within easy reach of homework assistance, and where they could pinch-hit in case their parents had to run errands. I was pretty certain she had no desire to help me, though I'm sure she could have if I asked. She could have told me all about the drums stacked up right behind her...
...and which drumsticks would be perfect for each. She could have told me about the rain sticks standing up in the bucket; or at least that's what I think they are.
She could have told me about the Scottish bagpipes or the names of all the different stringed instruments.
I happen to know that these octagonal two-stringed Chinese violins are called ehrus .
The use of python skins for these instruments has been regulated in China since 1988.
I was pleased that the person behind the cash register, no doubt the proprietor, quietly let me use my camera.
Enjoy a clip from the Travel Channel here:
and, thanks to Ruth, here's a part of the soundtrack of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
If you need any exotic musical instruments, or if you are just curious, be sure to visit the Clarion Music Center in San Francisco's Chinatown.