Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is this really December?

Today I'm going to share some of the everyday interests...again I guess. It's so fun to walk out every Saturday. Today it was 5 hrs. of walking to a few new spots and getting back in time to go to our Wild West staff party 65 stories up, looking over the larger buildings across the river at the Bund. We'll be going with a couple of our kids' teachers. The significant her, will be in a wheel chair from having ligament surgery--yikes--here in Shanghai. The other, a literature expert working on his doctorate, almost done, out of Rome, via Kansas. Am I rambling?

Above, Anne, boiling over, Dec. 5th, after having checked out the local bakery! Nothing like a little good squid ink to make for a perfect pastry! It's suppose to be I've heard...Top left is what it looks to enter an apartment complex. You're never quite sure where/when it ends. Some have shops, banks, hair salons, coffee shops, restaurants, and then some, like ours, are just apartments. These are in an ex-patriot area, yet certainly 99% Chinese. Walking by you might hear French, German, Swedish, Australian, Indian, English, and even Chinese. It seems that every week we go somewhere that we've already been to, some store is gutted and changed. Construction is a 24/7 affair here. We've bought some VIP cards for dry cleaning, hair cuts, and shoe shining because your fee gets cut in half! The key is to be able to buy it for cheap. You never know, the store/restaurant/salon may be gone the next time you walk by. It almost feels criminal when you go in to get your hair cut for 14 RMB, which is about $2 US. Shoes can get shined for $.70, and dry cleaning is $1 per item...

Let's see, we just had our Winter Concert at school. The week was dedicated to getting this thing organized. Nobody accomplished much, but we Wowwed the parents. I guess it better look good for $25K. All those kiddos are in my class Ü

Anne and I were walking home yesterday, when a 3 wheeled electric bicycle hummed by with 8 boxsprings on it. There was a worker dude sitting up on top of all of them, apparently trying to keep them all balanced and/or secured onto the bike. He had to be 12 feet high. There weren't any ropes, bungee cords, string etc. I had this movie playing in my head, over and over, where the bike takes a corner and gravity and inertia come into play. There are no soft cobblestones in Shanghai. Ambulances don't carry medically skilled people. It is recommended that you flag down a cab and move the body as quickly as possible in order to get to the hospital before rigor sets in. We, of course, will not be moving boxsprings, riding mopeds, cars, and/or any electric bicycles in the foreseeable future. We are feeling very good about our ability to cross the street with confidence. On a side note, sort of, we went to dinner with a Chinese-Shanghaiese cohort and others last night, and she said there is no such law as jaywalking, although our vice-principal told us he got a ticket for it one time!! It used to be confusing watching bicycles, electric mopeds, and motorized mopeds blow through red lights. You don't need a license to operate one, and thus you don't have to follow the rules that cars have to abide by. Red and green lights, little white men lit up across intersections, and crosswalks-that are well striped-mean absolutely nothing. I think it's just a place where cars are suppose to be sure to look when approaching. Think Broadway in New York where everyone crosses the street at all points from corner to corner. No honking occurs if you are looking around and know where all the other cars are. It's just a time to get out of each others' way. In September, Anne was screaming in shock and bewilderment, but now, even she just makes sure there aren't any fast moving vehicles approaching on the green lights. Your head is always moving. The vehicles aren't going to stop whether lights are red or green, so you just use common sense and navigate when you know it's "safe."

After visiting a fairly new western grocery store today, where we bought some Dennison's Chili, Triscuits, and a Samuel Adams beer, we had lunch at a French deli/catering shop. There wasn't much English in the store. Nearly all specials, daily menu, and Christmas menu were in French. The Chinese had roasted chicken with potato cubes and veggies for lunch while some French were enjoying oysters and a good Parisian chardonnay. Anne decided on a tomato and Brie tort while I had the basil chicken and cheese panini. I loved sampling the various olives while we waited in sun. We watched a French man put out his cigarette in a large tree's pot. It was so amazing to see someone who cared enough not to just chuck the butt on the ground, that we were delighted to watch him struggle with what to do with his butt. Later, Anne asked the chef, who had been in Shanghai for 4 months-like us- if he spoke Chinese, and he very candidly let her know that he really didn't have anything he wanted to say to the Chinese...I'm giving that shop till February...



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