Search Results For : shanghai

Singing to Amrbos and Fendrich while racing along Shanghai’s elevated highways…this is how Patrick and I started his family’s tour of our city. If there is anything they learned about life here, it’s that anything goes. The rest of the week was consumed by market-hopping: baby clothes market (for Denise’s soon-to-be-born), fake market, fabric market, pearl market, electronics market, fresh market, flower market…you name it, they shopped it. During breaks from shopping, eating or beauty treatments were in order – hair, nails, massage. A well earned vacation for our Styria group. Patrick and I were especially impressed at how well his aunt & uncle seemed to adjust to their first trip to the Far East. After a whirlwind tour of Beijing, Xian, and Guilin, it seemed the Shanghai was a piece of cake. Or should I say – banana flambee with ice cream!

Xmas in China is yet another example of how all the ‘bad’ of a meaningful (Western) holiday can be exported like a commodity and planted into a completely foreign place where it is impossible for the people to understand anything about it. Sorry to start out so negative, but Patrick and I spent the greater part of yesterday shopping, and with every dancing Santa, every blinking Christmas tree, we thought…what is wrong with this picture?!? I called a modern Chinese restaurant to make a reservation for December 24th for a bunch of friends who are in town over the holidays, and I heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the background. Yes, we are Shanghai. Yes, it is international. Yes, there are Christians living here. But it still makes no sense – all the lights and attraction that this season gets criticized in the West, right here in the East. If you interview a European on that subject, they will grunt and complain about commercialization, globalization and local traditions getting wiped out. But here – I am not sure if folks think about the implications.

Since work has picked up, and I have am in more of a work-home routine than I would like, I noticed that I have not been able to reflect on my experiences here as much as I used to. I wondered if that is because I am getting accustomed to life here and thus not as sensorally aware, or if I just am too tired for analyzation. Maybe both. But I have decided to make a list and so expect a longer entry hopefully soon!

My mother is a sociologist at her core. She tells me stories about the days she visited the overpopulated ghettos on the fringes of the ever-growing Turkish metropolises for academic purposes. When you are with her, you notice she has a special connection with people of every kind. She observes behavior and analyzes. Most women cry for help when they are realize they are becoming more and more like their mothers. I happily accept it. I am an analyzer. Especially when I really want to understand the population and behavior patterns ties to culture like I do in China (my brother and Patrick call it a staring problem – which isn’t a problem at all in China, because everyone stares).

The two hours of every day I spend up close and very personal with several thousand of my slight-framed, black-haired cohabitants provides me with insights I am learning to treasure (and I will continue telling myself this so as not to lose my cool). A quick run-down of my morning:
1. Leave home at 8:00am, sometimes 8:05 (but no later than 8:10 or I am not only late to work, but also hit the peak of rush hour on the train).
2. Greet the doorman with my convincing “Ni Hao” and ask him to open the door to the bike parking lot below our apartment building (in the beginning, this was done using all four limbs in a charades-like attempt to demonstrate using my bike, but now I have got the sentence down pat – except for the word bike “zixingche” which still challenges my American tongue).
3. Bike about 5 minutes to the West Yan’an Rd subway station (most of the line is elevated). There is nothing to get you awake in the morning like a good bike ride in Shanghai. Be on alert at all times.
4. Park my bike and get a ticket from the “bike valet parker” whose sole job is to watch all the bikes from 8 to 7 every day. I usually come home after he is gone, but so far, my bike has remained in tact (friends say it’s just a matter of time till I walk out and my bike is gone).
5. Wait for the train to come. One of my first mistakes was taking the yellow line which also stops at the same station and goes the same route before veering off and going north. I take the purple line – number four. This train comes every 8 minutes during rush hour. I have my arrival times almost perfectly now, but in the beginning, I would too often have to wait in the boiling heat while sweat would drip down my back and my hair would begin to stick to my forehead.
6. 12 stops, about 35 minuets in what feels like a meat locker until masses of people keep rushing in pushing you closer and closer to people you never wanted to be that close with. Here is what’s going on: most read the free paper handed out at the stations, some play with their mobiles phone, some listen to music, some sleep, some eat their breakfasts using obnoxiously loud smacking noises, some clear their throats and/or noses. Those who are not otherwise preoccupied, stare. They love to stare at anything I happen to be holding in my hands – most of the time,it’s my Chinese vocabulary notebook, a novel of some kind, or my phone. Most of the time I am standing – some days I “conquer” a seat (I use that word  because it is not an easy feat and I feel I use strategy and skill to obtain it).
7. The exit. The exit is a disgusting display of what happens when there are too many people trying to achieve opposing things in a very short amount of time. We have OUT contingency and the IN contingency. Sometimes we have flag-bearing officials at the doors trying to control the whole thing, but I have yet to observe what they really do. I try to position myself close enough to the door during the trip that I can approach it at my stop (yet not too close – as I discovered on day 2 or 3). Then I just stand there – knees slightly bent, arms folded around my bag, elbows out – and wait for the OUT group to sweep me along in their stampede. Note: I do almost none of the pushing -it is all done for me – which really made one of the Chinese girls behind me really upset the other day.
8. Walk about 10 minutes to the office. The office is in a really modern, glass, 50-floor building with a four-star hotel in it. However, the walk to the office consists of passing government housing whose toilet stalls are conveniently located on the sidewalk outside. I also pass street vendors selling all kinds of foods, a very busy bus stop, and two insane intersections. No stroll through the park.

The masses of bodies do the least to deter Chinese from their daily routine- after all, they are used to it. I soon will be too…I hope.

Wir waren gestern mit Freunden (waren mit einer Gruppe von insg. 13 Leuten unterwegs) am Fischmarkt (angeblich der beste in Shanghai).

Ein Erlebnis der etwas anderen Art.

Nachdem wir ein paar Köstlichkeiten in den Tanks und Käfigen begutachten konnten, ist sie recht bald mit den anderen in eines der (mehr oder weniger sauberen) Restaurants in der Nähe gegangen, um einen Tisch zu reservieren [Regel No. 1: schau NIEMALS in die Küche – zumindest nicht vor dem Essen – sonst bleibst nicht allzu lange dort].

[Der Ablauf hier: du kaufst Meeresfrüchte, Fisch oder was auch immer am Markt zu finden ist, nimmst alles mit ins Restaurant (lebend natürlich), sagst dem Kellner, was du wie zubereitet haben möchtest, bestellst zusätzlich Beilagen und Getränke und genießt nach Herzenslust und -Laune. Regel No. 2: für solche Events nimmst am besten immer Seife, Desinfektionsmittel (für Stäbchen und Teller) bzw. eigenes Besteck mit – mit Servietten abwischen reicht nicht.]

Zurück zum Markt. Nachdem Burcu und die anderen das Weite gesucht haben, bin ich mit einem Freund (Kanadier mit chines. Vorfahren) noch eine wenig länger durch die Hallen und Gasserl gebummelt. Man kann sich nicht vorstellen, wie es hier abgeht. Draußen auf der Strasse sieht man schon einiges. Aber hier ist’s echt a Wahnsinn (ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass sich hierher schon allzu viele Ausländer wagten). Die absolute Härte! Überall Schlamm, Kadaver von verendeten Fischen, tote Schildkröten * Schlangen, geschlachtete Frösche, und das Ganze aufgemischt mit zerteilten Krebsen und allerlei Eingeweide. Dazwischen 1000ende Händler, Passanten und sonstige zwielichtige Leute. Was für ein China-Erlebnis. Zu allem Überdruss sind wir dann noch beide auf toten Kröten ausgerutscht! Vergiss Bananen! Frösche sind sicherlich doppelt so rutschig.

Danach zurück ins Restaurant – einige der Locals in der Gruppe haben zwischenzeitlich unsere Fische gekauft (ich durfte nicht dabei sein, da es sonst für alle ein bisschen teurer gewesen wäre) – und ab zum Festschmaus…

Später ging’s etwas überfressen und ziemlich nach Fisch stinkend in ein Lokal und zum Abschluss noch in eine Disco. War ein netter Abend…


Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu River – our side of the river is called Puxi (west of Pu) and it is the more historic side of town. The other side, Pudong (east of Pu) has been newly developed with many high rises and a big park called Century Park. Nanjing Road is the main road on the Puxi side with loads of hotels, restaurants, shopping. We live in the Changning disctrict, bordering the Xuhui district. Our compound is marked with the red arrow. You can zoom in and out to see how where we are located in the city. Pretty fancy, isn’t it?!