Weihai Road, Shanghai, July 2013
This is a teashop owner’s pet attempting to get to my freshly brewed Longjing tea. And yes, the cricket really is as big and colorful as it looks in the photograph. I thought it was fake when I first saw it, until noticed tiny movements and the little light orange pellets around it – who knew crickets shat orange? Seriously. Something new every day (a quick Google search makes me think it’s feed related).
I inquired politely as to why there was a cricket at the table (it’s not the norm to have a cricket at the table when one is buying tea, though keeping crickets as pets or fighters is normal enough in Shanghai).
The owner said the cricket reminded him of the countryside – no? Then he took out his Samsung Galaxy to show me how he recorded the cricket’s chirping.
“It’s very soothing. I made it my ringtone.” He played it for me, a long, intense chirping session. After, the cricket responded in kind.
The owner, generously: “You can record him and make it yours as well. Here, let me get him started. You saw how it goes. Once he hears chirping, he starts too.”
He played it for 30 seconds. The cricket stayed silent.
He played again, for a full minute. Silence.
We never got another peep out of him. This is one cricket that apparently does not perform on demand.
In the photograph’s background, the owner is making more tea for my visiting Japanese friends to try as they ponder what kind of tea leaves they want to buy.