Monday, May 23, 2011

Shanghai - Communication is key and all I see are locks - May 23 2011

I'm still super sore from that Chinese massage, in case anybody is wondering.

Decided I needed to give my stomach a break, so I went to ElementFresh for lunch. Nothing is more bland and American than ElementFresh. Unfortunately they closed the restaurant today due to a burst pipe. Wagas to the rescue! I don't know if Wagas is usually this packed - or if every ElementFresh customer simultaneously had the same idea - but this place was packed. My food was actually delivered before I found a seat, just barely though.

MetroCity Mall has a Beard Papas!!
I had been seated for a few minutes and noticed a solo guy searching hopelessly for a seat, so I motioned for him to join my small table. It was a good call as the guy is friendly, insightful, and fun to chat with. He's an architect, permanently based in Hong Kong, but living in Shanghai for 4 years now. We talked about all sorts of things, primarily the difficulty in finding a competent, proactive workforce with attention to detail - I am referring to the string of consultants I have worked with, the same is true in his field of architecture as well. His theory is a simple formula: a country of "only child"ren + parents suddenly have some money = instant laziness. I don't think it's quite that simple, but it is an amusing theory.

At the end of the day today, my projects were all going according to plan, except I was getting a lot of low-level connectivity intermittency. This shouldn't happen unless you have sketchy equipment, so I told my consultant I wanted to try replacing all of the cables - and he suggested an electronics market that he was headed towards anyway. I jumped at the chance to possibly explore a new neighborhood! I should tell you that he is not one of my regular consultants and he speaks/understands as many words in English as I do in Chinese (and probably as many useful words too as my words only come in handy when drinking beverages and ordering food). Once outside the comfort of the office, and not about to order drinks, we had to find the very few words we spoke of a common tongue. In the end, it was very difficult for me to explain I was looking for a higher quality product, sturdy construction, perhaps a brand name. The only thing I was able to explain successfully was "CAT6". CAT6 is CAT6, right? We'll see.

Something is definitely lost intranslation
When we had finished shopping, he kept pushing me towards the taxicab stoop, and I just couldn't get through to him that I want to walk around the area and then take the metro, so I pretended to get in line for a cab while he disappeared down into the metro station.

Ended up walking through MetroCity mall. Passed by Iceason, another location of the gelato shop from the other day. This one had a label in English: "Strawberry Cookie". I guess Vanilla is just the standard answer if they don't know what it's called.

They also had a placard with an oversized picture of a healthy looking apple with a miniaturized gelato cone next to it. The sign read "One Scoop Of Gelato Approximately Equals To An Apple's Calorie" they are trying to convince English-reading people to replace apples with gelato in their diet? Why stop there? How about something like "Ten Scoops Of Gelato Approximately Equals To An Apple's Fiber and Vitamin." Brilliant.

Adorable Japanese treat shop

 Wandered into a shop that seems to specialize in over-the-top-cute prepackaged Japanese treats. There was one middle-aged lady there who spoke a little bit of English, but she didn't seem to know what the items were, so she was translating my questions to the young ladies working there, who would try to make their best guesses. I was trying to motion and ask one of the girls if this is gum - she replied that you make a suit out of it and then breathe fire - at least that's what I got from the charades. Then she giggled and I laughed and she fell down laughing and I cracked up and pretty soon the whole store was in hysterics. It was definitely the highlight of the day.

Walked over the Lost Heaven in the French Concession, another location of a restaurant that hosted one of our events last year. I was really hoping to not have an all-Western-food day, and Lost Heaven Yunnan folk cuisine is such a special way to do it, but it wasn't meant to be. They were all full, even the bar area was booked for a party. Made a reservation for two to return tomorrow - I have 24 hours to find a date. Ended up at Boxing Cat Brewpub, which I visited once about a year ago. It's nice to go at the end of the trip when you're dying for American food and microbrewed beer. In the middle of the trip, it's just a tease.


mizzkg said...

Dave - That was so funny! I gotta know! Where were they holding the execution? No really, where did you see the sign?

Dave said...

It was in the lobby of my office building. I think they were executing either repairs or cleaning :)

mizzkg said...

Well, just to be on the safe side, you better watch your step when you go to the office. ;)
They sound rather severe there.