Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22 2013: Human Sweater in Shanghai

Monday I could see there were only two days remaining to accomplish all the work projects I came here for, and also dwingling time remaining to hit up my old haunts. I have a number of favorite restaurants, neighborhoods, shops, and experiences in Shanghai - yet this trip I mostly discovered new ones rather than going back to revisit the old ones.  At lunch I almost had a chance to visit a favorite juice and salad bar for a quick lunch near the office - while at the same time maximizing my diminishing work time - when at the last second a vendor invited me to lunch. I make it a habit of always accepting a lunch offer rather than exploring on my own. He is a local guy from Shanghai who tries hard - really hard - but his firm will never be able to meet the service level I would expect from a Western firm. For example, when I arrived last week, we had a big pow-wow to discuss project ideas and complaints about a system they designed and integrated. Their answer to my complaints was to blame our users - especially our high level VIP users - for not understanding how to use the system. Over the next few days, I proceeded to show them the technical glitches in their system and suggest possible solutions for their own system but it's hard for them to understand that the solution to users not understanding how to use the system is not to blame the users - we are stuck with them :) - it's to build a stable and easy-to-understand system.

I think it was my first ever Filet-O-Fish

He's a very nice and hardworking guy - powering through glitches and squashing bugs one at a time - and it was through broken English while we were walking through the mall in the bowels of the office complex that I learned he was treating me to McDonald's of all places. I mentioned that I only eat vegetables - like a Buddhist - and fish. I hadn't partaken in The Golden Arches in years and years - what do they have? My lunchmate happily suggested what he called the "Fish Hamburg" (aka Filet-O-Fish). What are you having? "Coke Cola, Hamburg" and fries - but he didn't know the English word for fries :)

Not sure if this is a compliment,
social commentary, or just a joke :)

In the evening, I took the metro to Jing'an Temple and had a lovely walk to my friend Adele's yoga studio Y+ in the French Concession. She's a great teacher, doing as much as she can in English, Mandarin, and of course Sanskrit. I had taken a class in the same room last Winter and found it incredibly warm; on a 100 degree day, it was ludicrously so. Adele explained that today was even warmer than usual because "Caucasians raise the temperature of the room." Is this a figurative thing, like changing the vibe or affecting the level of intensity? No, she says, Caucasians literally give off much more heat, and about 5 of the 16 people in a room designed for 12 were Caucasian.

Enjoying the performance with Adele at Brick

I am a really good sweater (and I don't mean the garment) so I generally don't mind the heat whatsoever. My coworkers were shocked that I went for a bike ride Sunday in 100 degree temperatures - but as long as I have a bottle of water, a few drops of well-placed sunblock, and a hat, I am happy as a clam, though I will be drenched in sweat :) that's what happened mid-yoga class, I had to shed my shirt when it resembled a towel dropped into a tub. If Adele is right, that explains why everyone here keeps complaining about the absolutely gorgeous summer weather - maybe they aren't able to radiate their heat and it gets trapped inside their bodies.

Shanghainese women LOVE potato chips on a stick!!
I asked my coworker what these are,
she said "it's potato...." then after
a pause, added "'s delicious!!"

After class, we went to the restaurant Brick to catch Adele's friend, fellow yoga teacher, artist, and musician playing at the piano bar. Caitlin performed a mix of her own tunes (her husband David says they flow nonstop out of her at home - and only the verses he hears and remembers get recorded for posterity) and really creatively arranged covers in subtly themed setlists. Caitlin and David are from Byron Bay (the Easternmost point in Australia) and seem to have a ton of friends in Shanghai - people kept coming out throughout the evening to watch her performance. Eventually it got late, the show finished, Kaitlin's friends shuffled out, Adele and I caught up on each other's lives, and my last late-night in Shanghai was over.

1 comment:

The other Olga said...

wow, potato chips on a stick look awesome. And it sounds like a great, fun and productive day. Wish I were traveling with you!