Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I've started taking daily walks through the neighborhoods around my apartment building. Since the boys don't seem to sleep in past 6 am, I have decided to embrace their early morning wakings with a daily ritual that involves a little exercise for me, a little sleep induction for the kiddos, and a tiny glimpse into the local life around me.

As a foreigner living here in Shanghai, it is incredibly easy to live a sheltered existence. All creature comforts are fairly attainable. Unlike other countries, you never really have to learn the language to survive and thrive. If you have a driver, it's likely that you never have to take the metro or get lost walking around trying to find that one store a friend told you about. You can shop exclusively at Western stocked grocery stores buying Quaker Oatmeal, Breyers Ice Cream or whatever other things you ate back home. In fact, after the initial settling in period, finding a community of friends, and recovering from culture shock; most of us are a year into our 2-3 year assignments and find little desire in expanding our comfortable routines to include anything more Chinese than that cute silk top we had made at the fabric market.

Don't get me wrong, I don't claim to be living among the locals here. I like my comfy four bedroom apartment, and after 3 years of taxis, metros and hoofing it- I love having a driver. I also enjoy buying my breads at various European bakeries and I look very forward to my morning breakfast dates with my hubby (I usually order the pancakes). I don't speak Mandarin well enough to have any truly meaningful conversations, and with 6 month old twins, I don't have any illusions that I will be furthering my Mandarin skills either. 

With that said, I do miss China sometimes. It's weird to say that given the fact that I live here, but it's true. I don't have the China experience that some of my more adventurous (childless) friends have; and I do see a value in soaking in the culture to the best of my ability, so the best of my ability happens to be my daily walks. I head out with the boys in the wee hours of morning and I wind their carriage through the alleyways of various hidden neighborhoods.

As women wash their hair and children brush their teeth over street drains, I provide them with an equally amusing picture- a foreigner walking through their neighborhood pushing a stroller with not one, but TWO babies! I can barely walk 10 feet without hearing the words shuangbaotai uttered beneath a persons breath. The occasional brave soul actually attempts to speak to the foreign anomaly (that's me); and they ask if I do in fact have shuangbaotai tucked within the massive stroller before me. I smile and nod in confirmation that I do indeed have what they suspect- shuangbaotai...twins.

I tell you if I were Angelina Jolie walking down the street (minus her own twins); she would not get as much as a second glance from most of these local folks. 

So step aside Angie- the shuangbaotai are coming!

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