Bob Arno and Bambi in a den of thieves—12

Train graffiti

We may have caused a divorce. Or maybe a murder. Though it’s unclear who might have killed whom.

As a research expedition, the whole gang of us takes a train to a nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site, one packed with visitors. The goal is to speak with tourists and find out if they’d been warned about pickpocketing before visiting this area. Bob approaches a number of people on the street, introduces himself, and interviews them. He steals from some of them, just to prove how easy it is.

Not everyone wants to be interviewed on camera. Some have limited time to see the site and don’t want to be detained. One man, a 75-or-so-year-old American, is curious about our subject, but his wife is not. She drags him away. He looks lugubriously over his shoulder as he retreats.

Five minutes later the couple is back. The wife is shouting at her husband, “you crazy!” She is Chinese, 50ish, mad. The man heads straight to us and says he wants to be part of our survey. Bob explains why we’re asking, what the cameras are for, and that he’ll only need a few minutes of their time. But the wife won’t have it. She complains loudly to the man and pulls on his arm. He’s patient, and tells her “Look, we came here to do something interesting. I find this interesting.”

From left: Kath Liptrott, our producer, with big brown bag; man in red shirt, random interviewee; Bob Arno; sound recordist Michele; director of photography Van Royko; director Kun Chang.

From left: Kath Liptrott, our producer, with big brown bag; man in red shirt, random interviewee; Bob Arno; sound recordist Michele; director of photography Van Royko; director Kun Chang.

The argument escalates as we seven (Bob, me, director, camera guy, his assistant, sound man, producer) stand in a semi-circle around the couple, cameras and microphones rolling. The woman starts hitting the man, demanding money. The man refuses. The woman kicks him, shoves her hand in his pocket, screaming for money, her money, crying that she’ll go alone. The man is firm but quiet. He makes no apology to us. It’s as if we aren’t all standing there, staring at them. He must be mortified, but he just deals with the lunatic woman.

Van and Michele have turned off their cameras and sound, but we’re all still frozen in place. Without a word, the man turns away and walks toward the train station. The woman follows, still yelling, enraged. They do not return. We’re left to wonder about them, each of us a little devastated.

Part one of this story.  —  Next installment.

© Copyright 2008-2010 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>