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Saxophone bonds unlikely friendship

By Liu Zhe and Zhang Yue (China Daily)

09:42, July 18, 2013

After cleaning the streets, Jia Fengxia enjoys a leisure moment playing the saxophone, accompanied by a stray dog she adopted. (China Daily/Liu Zhe)

It was an ordinary summer morning in June in Datong, Shanxi province. Along the city's prosperous Weidu Avenue, people were busy commuting to work.

Suddenly, a sweet melody floated over the morning bustle. An elderly woman wearing the uniform of a city cleaner was sitting on the street corner playing the saxophone. Beside her sat an elderly beggar, slurping instant noodles with a big smile on his face.

"I am a city sanitation worker so my job is to clean the streets. That was when I noticed this guy. He is always searching for food in garbage piles," Jia Fengxia says. "I was sad the first time I saw him. So I bought him some noodles."

Jia first met the vagabond in August 2011, when she was picking up plastic bottles along Weidu Avenue. The man saw Jia, approached her, and passed her an empty bottle without speaking.

Jia was very surprised.

"I could tell he might be mentally ill at that time," she says. "But he looks very sincere."

She continued to see the man while doing her rounds as a city cleaner, and began to think about how she could help him.

The next time she saw him, Jia bought him some instant noodles and ham sausage.

She also brought her saxophone. While the man was enjoying the food, Jia sat next to him, playing old songs on her saxophone.

"He would usually approach me when he wants to eat instant noodles," Jia says.

He usually approaches Jia late in the afternoon, when she is about to finish work. The two spend one or two hours together. While he is enjoying a bowl of hot noodles, Jia plays her favorite songs on the saxophone.

In March 2013, a local reporter took a photo of Jia sitting next to the beggar playing the saxophone and posted the story on the Internet.

The photo received massive attention because the pair looked so happy and satisfied sitting on the street corner wearing simple clothes. Many people praised Jia for helping those in need, calling her "the most beautiful cleaner" in China.

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