Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Review Is In! Mom Shares her "View from Here"

My trip to Shanghai has come to a close and I have had time to reflect upon my adventure. To begin, I arrived in Shanghai with very few expectations. I was most struck by its’ cosmopolitan air. I recall the same physical sense when in New York City but with many more people. If you have ever stood in Time’s Square on Saturday night in Manhattan, imagine adding ten times the number of people; not just in one spot, but everywhere. Traffic in Shanghai is a sight to behold. Vehicles can pretty much park anywhere. If you can’t find a spot, just park on the sidewalk. Any cabbie from Shanghai would find driving in NYC boring and not the least bit challenging. The streets are filled with people walking, riding bicycles, and riding, sometimes 3-4, on one moped-like vehicle, as well as buses of all kinds, shapes and sizes. At first the chaos made my head swim and resulted in a few actual nightmares. After a few days though, I realized that despite no traffic rules and an inherent insanity, an “organized chaos” existed and I could learn to just go with the flow. Jen coined the term “organized chaos” and it brought me a reconciled comfort.

I returned from Shanghai with many gifts, literally and figuratively. I love to shop and I love a bargain. The many marketplaces Jen and I and sometimes Philip visited were incredible and indescribable. You haven’t lived until you have seen Jen “bargain”. She has become a pro and her command of Mandarin is awesome. Her energy kept me going when I was on “overload”. My favorite shopping experience was the fabric market where I had a few things made to order; and very inexpensively thanks again to the queen of bargaining.

The exploration of tea and tea-drinking was another true gift. Jen and Philip shared their “tea lady” and her shop with me and we sipped tea, learned about tea pots and had an awesome time. I also attended a “tea-party” hosted by Jen and attended by her friends, myself and the “tea guru”. We drank teas and learned about tea types and their health benefits, regions growing tea and tea politics. It was an inspiring afternoon. I am grateful to have come home with the gift of incorporating tea into my daily life.

Another treasured gift of my stay was an increased knowledge of Shanghai and Chinese Culture and history. We went on two tours, one with a famous photographer/historian named Gang Feng Wang. He toured us through an area of disappearing Shukimen-housing where he grew up. The other tour was through the old Jewish ghettos with a photo journalist named Dvir Bar-Gal. These were walking tours and both placed indelible marks in my memory. For example, I had no idea of the role Shanghai played during WW 2. Shanghai was one of only 2 open-ports in the world to harbor refugees. I never learned that in history class. That was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what I learned. For me the most profound overall cultural/historical view was the juxtaposition of old and new Shanghai, with emphasis on a disappearing old. There is little respect for the past and its history and although a few are fighting to preserve some structures, old Shanghai is being torn down 24 hours a day seven days a week. The sad part is the Shanghainese do not know much about their own rich history. I am so grateful to have seen it before it is gone. Hint, Hint.

The greatest gift of all was the time spent with Jen and Phil. Unfortunately Philip had to work. Did I mention how hard he works? He works from early morning to evening and then conference calls in the late evening because of the 12 hour time difference. Weekends are also filled with potential calls etc. What a guy!!!! Jen and I realized that we had not been together for a long time period since she was a little girl. I truly enjoyed my daughter and the kind woman she has become. I had fun with her. Did I mention she can really cook? The kids fed me, cared for me and treated me with such kindness. Did I mention the accommodations? The apartment they live in is just beautiful. I had my own room with private shower/bath. I was a queen! They live on the 55th floor overlooking the Bund. The view is wonderful. You could spend the day/night watching boats, ships, lights etc.

I am so thankful to Jen and Phil and their graciousness. This was an opportunity NOT to be missed.

WANTED: Family and friends to visit Shanghai. Stay in luxury accommodations overlooking the Bund. Tour with young, knowledgeable couple possessing very good Mandarin skills excited by the community and culture. Explore local history. Major opportunity for phenomenal photos. Extraordinary shopping, great food. Guarantee: You will never be the same. Make reservations before your opportunity slips away.
Could you pass up an ad like this?

Obviously, I had an awesome trip. I would go back in a heartbeat. I am already saving my vacation time at work……just in case there is a vacancy.


1 comment:

Clarice said...

Where do I sign up?