Monday, March 1, 2010

3/1: 2nd work week in Shanghai

Now that I have been here a week, I am starting to pick up bad words. Upon learning that our two bowls full of the lunar new year dumplings cost a grand total of 12 RMB, I said I could live like a king - king of dumplings. My friend stopped me short, explaining that King of Dumplings is an insult, like dummy.

He taught me another bad word: Bama is like the s--- word in Northern China. It can be used as an expletive such as "Oh bama!"

Lunch date today cancelled on me at the last minute, and everybody else had already left or already eaten and returned. Decided to step out and get something fast. Asked for advice, someone said he got a quick burger, and gave me directions. Sounded good enough to me! Yes, friends, today I joined the legion of American idiots who eat at McDonald's in an exotic foreign country. The only redeeming factor is that I was the ONLY non-Asian in the place, which in a way makes it a truly local experience!

I love the metro subway system here. All of the signs are in English, and I do mean ALL. They seem to dedicate significantly more space to English language than to Chinese. All of the stations/lines are laid out so you don't need to know exactly which direction you're going (towards airport or towards railway station? How would I know, I'm going to the mall. It doesn't matter!) You can just follow the signs to the line, go down to the train level, then look at the excellent signs to see if you need the left track or the right track. It eliminates the looking at a big confusing map and trying to ask people before you go down below the surface. A friend in Shanghai told me they have purposely delayed opening newly-competed exits, stations, and even entire lines so everything would be brand new for the Expo. Intense!

Today I rode to my tailor for a fitting during rush hour and I think I got there faster than when I went on Saturday. That's a public transit oddity, rush hour can get you places faster.

The fitting was amusing. Either I'm a pushover or I have no fashion sense or she and her husband are really good tailors, or all of the above - but I could hardly find anything for them to alter, it just seemed to fit me like a not-too-tight-not-too-loose glove. I wonder if there are websites where you can do exactly what I did - pick out the fabrics, style/options, enter your dimensions - and a suit arrives to your door from China in two weeks for about $100. Look out Armani!

Passed through the knockoff stores one last time on the way to the metro. One shop was selling name-brand underwear, as long as the brand is Calver Klain. Somehow they managed to get the font right!

Ok I guess the metro isn't perfect. The rest of the trip I need to get to work early to setup videoconferences, so I was trying to plan out a slightly early night. I totally wasn't paying attention and I got off one station early. Then I wandered around outside a few minutes til I realized what happened. The station I exited at (People's Square) has a gelato shop I've been wanting to try - you walk right towards it as you're transferring from Line 1 to Line 2 -- but the shop entrance door is just slightly on the outside of the paid area - and I never felt like leaving and buying another ticket to try it. So here I am standing outside, struggling to turn lemons into lemonade (I know in the grand scheme of things it's a small lemon, maybe just a Lemonhead). Anyway the gelato was decent :)

Then I got back on the metro and got off at the next stop. Exited, wondered around a bit, and guess what - this time I had misread the map - I was STILL one stop early. Enough is enough, I can walk the extra 4 blocks. I passed the inspiration for my company's logo: a huge Chinese coin.

Finally got to the Thai restaurant a coworker recommended and it was all booked up. Even for a party of one. Really. Just one little person. I won't eat much. Just need a little corner to lean against. Guess who has a reservation to the most exclusive Thai restaurant in town tomorrow!

Passed a bunch of places I decided against for various reasons: hot pot (seemed too complicated and limiting for one person "I'll have one steak pot, that's it"), pizzeria and hamburger shop (too American after McDonald's), some mini marts (fruit and packaged ramen and call it a night), some greasy Chinese restaurants that looked deserted, then I spotted Tsui Wah Restaurant and followed a Chinese couple in. This place is cool. I'm not sure how to describe it, it looks like an L.A. or Vegas glitzy diner, 90% of customers are Chinese, extensive Chinese menu broken down by region, good cold milk tea. They list the top 10 items right at the front of the menu, I love that. I'd come back here again - maybe next time I'm in town and in the mood for a Hong Kong chain restaurant.

1 comment:

TangueraBird said...

"Oh bama" hi-hi-hi :))))))
King of Dumplings also is a very good one! :) Imagine you say smth like that in the States...nobody will really care except... :)

I heard that Japanese underground is different from Chinese - no English. At all. Soooo...enjoy your comfortable subway system there :)