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Saxophone bonds unlikely friendship

Updated: 2013-07-17 12:22
By Liu Zhe and Zhang Yue ( China Daily)

Saxophone bonds unlikely friendship

The photo that caught media's attention features Jia Fengxia sitting on the street corner playing the saxophone and an elderly beggar, eating instant noodles. Guo Bin / For China Daily

Jia, 58, worked in a factory before retiring, but returned to the workforce in 2011 as a sanitation worker.

Her day begins at 4:30 am when she rides her bicycle to work, bringing the two stray dogs she adopted, Maomao and Dongdong.

"I feel so happy when I finish my job every day. The neat and clean city streets look like a painting," she says.

Jia has been interested in music since she was very young, but was unable to receive music training because of her family's poverty. Her interest in the saxophone started during a trip to Beijing many years ago. She was in a shopping mall when she heard music being played that she liked very much. She later found out she had heard a saxophone.

She was so deeply enchanted by the music that she spent 1,700 yuan ($276) to buy a new sax shortly after returning home from Beijing, hoping that her son may develop an interest in it.

But the boy was not interested in the instrument, so Jia started learning it herself.

The songs she plays are simple, old songs from the 1980s.

Jia's life changed a lot after the photo of her and the vagrant was posted on the Internet.

She has been woken up at 4:30 am, not for her job but by interview requests from various media outlets. Occasionally Jia feels reluctant to give interviews.

"I just feel that I am having a good time with a new friend," she says. "I am not sure how much I can talk about this to the media. But I am also happy because many people are supportive about helping people like this."

Jia says she also needs the media to help her beggar friend. In April 2013, Jia reached out to local media because she wanted to help the beggar find his real family.

In May, Jia was invited on Chinese Dream, one of the most popular TV shows in China in which participants share their dreams and ideas.

She wore her city cleaner's uniform on the show. "Though my life repeats every day, I still have a dream deep in my heart that people may regard as a crazy idea," Jia told the audience. When the show host asked her what her dream is, she hesitated for a moment, afraid that the audience may laugh at her.

"I want to be an elderly model," she says.

This dream was planted a few years ago, when she picked up a fashion magazine and noticed the amazing pictures. "It reminds me of the wonderful times when I was younger. I was quite a beauty at that time," she says.

Sun Ruisheng contributed to the story.

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