Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shanghai Adventures

I have been in Shanghai for a month. 

Here are some of my humble thoughts and experiences:

Shanghai is like New York City with dumplings
Okay, so maybe not to that extreme, and not always or everywhere. But seriously, walking around the city, I sometimes forget that I
 am on the other side of the Pacific. 

Yes, the people around me are constant reminders, but even they are much more hip and up-to-date with their fashion and dress (compared to, say, the dwellers of Beijing). 

Also, the architecture of many city districts has a very Western flavor, further contributing to my periodic disorientation. 

I have met several expats in Shanghai who, despite having lived in the city for several years, do not know any Chinese. Usually, their excuse is that they really don't need it, which I can totally see to be true.

A Brief Break from Skyscrapers
I visited an art district in Shanghai with a bunch of fellow Yalies a couple of weeks ago. It reminded me much of 798 district in Beijing. This time, I was able to get my hands dirty with some on-spot painting.

There were shoes and shirts and tires and walls to be painted! All items were auctioned off and proceeds were to go to the recovery of Sichuan after the earthquake.

Chaos in the Subway
I thought that my experience last summer with the public transportation system in Beijing will have me more than prepared for anything Shanghai can throw
 at me. However, my experience yesterday proved my assumption wrong...

Because I found the normal route too crowded and too tedious (I have to go through 3 different subway lines), a friend suggested a different path. He said that although the trip might take a little longer, it would be much more comfortable and I would have a seat. So, convinced, I decided to try that out yesterday. Mistake. 

The moment I stepped onto the train, I was pushed to the back of the cabin and squished. Squished for an hour. I couldn't move or breath. Sweat and stench everywhere, not a pretty place to be. People were overly aggressive- grown men pushing younger children, each person for himself. To top things off, the girl next to me passed out. 
That part was scary because she wasn't moving at all. 

Great way for the day to start off, yeah?

His Own World
Every morning on my way to the subway station, I pass by major highways and basically huge, brutal, imposing slabs of concrete. In the midst of all this, there is one small patch of grass. Every morning, despite the incredible amount of noise and distractions around, there is always this man practicing taichi on this patch of grass. It is almost as if he is on his own island, in his own world. He is able to block out everything around him. The juxtaposition of two not only different, but conflicting, worlds. Incredible.

What? Your son still lives with you?
On the same Saturday I took a trip to the Art District, I also went to observe parents advertising their (grown) children at the park. That turned out to be a cool experience. Expecting only a handful of parents to be there, I was surprised by a packed park. The parents would write their child's name and stats (age, height, weight, occupation, car, apartment, education, basically anything that would sell). It's quite a scene.


Rebecca said...

I really like the description of the guy doing taichi on the little patch of grass. I guess everyone needs their little place to escape to, right?

devon said...

not all bunnys sold on the street of china are like that