Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19 2013: TGIF Shanghai!

The following blog post contains mature themes featuring immature men, performed solely for research purposes. Please take with a very heavy dose of NaCl.

Nice summer day - view from my office
Friday I had lunch with a coworker, we went to a Southern China dumpling place in the mall under our office. It may be the first (and only!) Chinese meal this trip. Most people who take me out tend to go to Japanese, Thai, Singaporean, Hong Konger, and other Asians. We passed through a section of the mall that seemed dedicated to baby gear and young childrens clothes and toys. I remarked that China seems to be going through a bit of a baby boom - I've seen an awful lot of pregnant women and young babies. My coworker said it's not possible to have a baby boom in China - since the One-Child Policy was enacted in 1979 - there can never be a baby boom - and in fact the population will start to decrease in 2015 (after 35 years of this policy). I'm hoping a mathematician or statistician can correct me here - but I don't see why they can't be a baby boom, even with the population starting to decrease. The middle class has boomed - and continues to blossom according to my observations of wealth on this trip - in the past 10 years, and many people born since the policy was enacted are now in their 20s and 30s, why wouldn't there be a boom? Just because you are limited to one child doesn't mean the timing of those childrens' births will be equally spread out over time. The other question I have - why is it taking 35 years for the population to decrease? Is it because urban parents are limited to two one child per two adults - but rural parents can sometimes have 6 to 8 to help with the farms - does that explain the delay? Somebody please explain in the comments:)

Tian Zi Fang
Went to dinner with a business associate and some British foreigners he was entertaining. We ended up at Lapis Thai restaurant in Tian Zi Fang, a really neat part of town I'd never been to before (near Da Pu Qiao metro station). Basically they took some very old houses - poor families without toilets still living in some to this day - and converted the block into a fun trendy old town. It's hard to explain, maybe the photo will help illustrate. The Thai food was wonderful, and I learned some funny expressions, such as 'Cantonese will eat everything that has four legs besides a table, everything with wings apart from a plane' - this in response to my pickiness for vegetables, fish, and seafood. A good Canton I would not make!

Dodo, hostess with the mostest
After dinner, we stumbled over to a KTV lounge, which is a karaoke bar for business travelers. When you get off the elevator, you are greeted by a row of 40 women welcoming you, in unison, in Mandarin. You are guided into a private room that could accommodate twice your group (you'll see why in a minute), given a chance to settle in, then the first batch of women arrive. They all greet you, this time by taking turns down the row, and saying the town or region they are from. I didn't hear any "Shanghai" so either this is an industry for women looking to get out of small towns, or perhaps they mentioned their neighborhood. You are subtly explained the code - there are two dress colors (one is for women who are "more aggressive"), and women holding their hands in front of their body are able to be "taken out." If you don't see a lady to your liking, after a few minutes these women are dismissed and another batch arrives with the same routine. It's a bit like a beauty pageant where you can ask questions, perhaps ask one or two women something about themselves, or to pose in some way. Any woman with distinguishing talents - such as English fluency - is pointed out. After a few rounds of parading women out, anybody still alone is assigned a mate for the evening. You are repeatedly given a chance to change women throughout the evening, though most people stick with their selections.

Dodo keeping the party going
You might, for example, have selected your mate by asking the women to smile. The rest of your group might think you were looking for nice teeth or a subservient personality. In actuality, when seeing one laugh slightly, you might have thought you saw a shared dark sense of humor that too saw the absurdity in the situation. Throughout the rest of your time at the KTV, your personal hostess is there to refill your wine and water glasses, drink when you drink, choose some songs and sing, play drinking games such as dice and rock paper scissors, bring you to the floor to dance together when an appropriate song comes on, and near the end there is what one of my local counterparts whispered to me as "the special dance" where the lights are turned off and you get a lap dance from every girl in the room, in rotation, for about 30 seconds each.

The sun just beginning to rise over Pudong
Then the local guys go home and all of the foreigners stay for a little more. The ladies change into their street clothes and the singing and drinking (but no more dancing) continues for another hour. Then the ladies want to go home (to theirs, not yours) and you crazy chaps head to The Bund to continue the stag party (most of the guys are married, one of the guys is engaged, so it might as well be a stag party). You end up at one of the all-night roofdeck clubs such as Bar Rouge, partying until the sun comes up. Literally, with a club on a roof deck, it's easy to know when to go home. Take a taxicab back to your hotel, pass out in bed with your still clothes on, and wake up dressed and ready for an afternoon of shopping at 3pm!


The other Olga said...

Love that paragraph about the smile. How were the tacit cultural codes explained to you? Did the guy who invited you out do some explanation?

Dave Grenetz said...

Some of the tips definitely came from the guy who invited me - they seemed to be a translation of what the ladies or the Madame said (eg: about the dress colors or hand location). Others seemed to come over the karaoke speakers when the room was darkened - I assume he grabbed a mic to share tips from his own experience :) A couple were whispered to me by people who clearly had been there before!