Shanghai is a city I didn't - still don't - know much about. Most of my time around town was spent people watching, taking in an impression of the lives of its residents. The city is nicely laid out, posh, and rich.
Outside the Grand Theater in People's Square. Apparently the man was trying to sell me the ticket for $30 to a musical about an ancient Chinese monks. On the late autumn evening I walked around People's Square with my iced bubble tea. I stirred the ice cubes with the straw, listening to the sound and movements--it felt like a lovely thing to do in a foreign place.
Inside a hair salon downtown. The owner and one of his staff chased me down the streets and grabbed me by the arms, half shouting, 'Please give us a chance to know you! We'd love to show you how we can revamp your image!' After 10 minutes of efforts on their part, I was game and agreed to go take a look. The boys shepherded me to sit down and began to show me these magazine spreads featuring Japanese girl with wavy hairstyles. Long straight hair is considered 'outdated' in China and so the boys launched into a brain-washing campaign against me: 'You're so lovely you've gotta try one of these trendy wavy hairstyles!'
After they exhausted their speeches, I found an excuse to leave. The owner was civil enough to see me off and explain that's his usual trick - to stop more fashionable girls or tourists on the street to see if he could win them over. Too bad they ran into a writer who'd get herself into trouble (and pain, in some cases) just to try people out.
In a bar with Felix Wang and Siyan (not pictured), the famous Shopgirl of Shanghai. Felix is a friend I met from 4.5 years ago in Hong Kong. Two curious episodes happened revolving Felix during my visit to Shanghai.
1) I brought him two bottles of Macallan whiskey and some cigarettes at the HK airport duty free shop. The wholesome package was quickly stolen in the Shanghai airport - for one minute I put it on the floor to help an elderly couple with their luggage and when I turned around the whole thing was gone. I had this mental picture of the bottles being passed between the hands of faceless thieves, who sold them for a fat profit to an obese drinker or a shabby liquor store. Of the glistening, golden liquor in dirty tall glasses...Oh dear whiskey.
2) Felix and I went to a tango thing at a bar on Saturday night. Just as I started dancing with the teacher, Felix - who had no experience in the dance - invited a lady to show him the moves. That was the first time I'd seen a complete beginner in tango - other than myself - shoot up and go for it without being prompted. I consider this very telling of his personality.
Around the Old City in Shanghai. Some girls in the neighborhood thought I was a journalist on an assignment. 'Maybe she's here to take pictures of our shops,' one of them murmured, 'let's ask her to buy some buns.' I didn't buy the buns because they didn't look as attractive as other street food around.
Curiously, I lost weight and dropped a size in my eight days in Shanghai. I blamed it on my wanderlust - I could walk forever and forget. Forget to eat, to drink, to stop, to settle.
Waiting to board the plane to HK. The man was listening to a well-known Taiwanese pop song and humming it to his girlfriend. The lyrics go: 'If you love me, don't go/If you say you don't love me, I don't want to hear it from you/Give me just a bit more of your tenderness/The loneliness of the night causes me grief/I dare not think too much because I'm alone.'
A wonderful endnote, wouldn't you think?