Hello from Shanghai!
Last week was pretty crazy. My friend, Denise Allan, wife of Kirk, sister of Rob Donatucci arrived last Saturday. Kirk works at JPMO with Mike and back in the day - 1973-1986, Mike, Kirk, Rob and I all worked at Westinghouse PSPD, NOD, NSD - whatever. Anyway, we've been having fun exploring all week.
Sunday was 2008 Olympics Day - a group of us went to the Argentina/Australia and the Ivory Coast/Serbia soccer match at Shanghai Stadium - about 4 blocks from our apartment. We walked and were drenched before we passed the first side street. Torrential downpours and frequent lightening strikes forced us to stop and wait under an overhang. Once we got to the Stadium, we needed our ticket just to cross the street to enter the stadium grounds. Then the push was on. The Chinese push everywhere and all the time - you have NO personal space here. So it got a wee bit hairy as we approached the gate to security.
I have to admit, I was smart - I bought a small fancy umbrella once I got here - Kate had brought her dad a Totes-like umbrella from home and I brought my Ralph Lauren red USA umbrella from the States so Mike, Kate and I all had a small umbrella. The others all had large full-size umbrellas and the security group made them leave them in the security tent. . . along with hundreds of others so they could claim them once the game was over.
The security tent consisted of the typical x-ray machine and an adorable Golden Retreiver who sniffed at everything that came off the belt of the machine. He was adorable and the staff was kind although they would scream through megaphones in Chinese and we had no clue what they were saying. They were efficient and looked in purses but there were no smiles - it was all business. There are police everywhere. I've been very impressed with the security in Shanghai, since I got here.
The food in the stadium left a lot to be desired - where were my nachos? What about M & M's - a hot dog? No Primanti's! Ugh - what we did see and smell was something else. I saw a lady two seats away with a foil bag of popcorn and it didn't smell like the popcorn we know - it smelled like corn from a bag of frozen corn. The hot dogs were just down right gross - no buns - they are in these plastic cases - and they peel them to eat them - the smell is terrible - the man beside me was eating four (4) of them. I guess without the bun, you need more of them. . . I drank a Coke - Mike brought me a cold one - no ice but it was chilled nonetheless. I didn't need much else to make the event special for me.
Mike had purchased these tickets for the three of us from Craigslist - Yes friends, they have Cragislist here too. He bought them from Andy - a guy from Detroit who lives and works at Bosch, a car part manufacturer in Suzhou - about 45 minutes away. He paid RMB 680 for each ticket - face value was RMB 150 - so Andy made out on this deal. Argentina beat Australia 1-0 and Ivory Coast beat Serbia 4-2. We left before the end of the second game - it was hot and humid and we were tired.
Monday, Denise had to go prove that Denise Donatucci and Denise Allan are the same person so she can prove she's married to Kirk so she can get her Permanent Residency Permit so she can stay here. So she had to go to the US Consulate just like I did. Then Tuesday she went off to the Residency Bureau to prove all that and get her transit card. It will come back this week along with her passport. She carries a copy of her passport with her as do I - 24/7 - I put the real thing in the safe back at the apartment.
Monday I went to the JC Mandarin hotel - took two (2) subway trains to get there and a cab just so I could join the Shanghai Expatriate Assocociation. Lovely get-together with maybe 75-100 women who are in the same boat I'm in - following their husbands to Shanghai to work. Theresa said that there are usually hundreds of women at these monthly coffees. It cost me RMB 300 (membership dues for 2008-2009) and after a lovely brunch later, I walked out of there with an ENJOY card - yes, K of C members, they have them here in Shanghai too! Can you believe it? Although they cost roughly $42 here so tell your friends who are crying the blues about the price in the Burgh to quit their belly aching! However, I did receive a bottle of wine for buying the ENJOY card and after my friend, Theresa recruited Sue and Julie from Michigan to join, I got another bottle. Spanish Reds - that's okay - I'll either drink it and like it or cook with it.
I met some lovely new friends, after the brunch, we moved onto Starbucks and I met Julia from England and Jeannine from France. Judy from Philadelphia showed up and they all went to play bridge while I grabbed a cab to the Fabric Market to meet up Kate and Mike so she could pick up her new clothes. They ALL fit perfectly and I hope I'll have some photos later to post.
Monday night we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant - DaMarco's in the Grand Gateway Mall. Good food.
Tuesday was a bad day - Kate's departure - and we were up early waiting for Mr. Chen to take us to the airport. Needless to say, it was emotional. After she left for the gate, I proceeded to the ladies room in anticipation of the long trip back to the apartment. I stood in line waiting for a stall and lo and behold, this petite Chinese woman comes barging in right in front of me. I remembered the conversation I had the day before with my new Expat friends and they said, "you need to make your own space." So, I said to her, "My turn, please" and she quickly moved behind me. Task accomplished! Nice bathroom too! Tuesday turned out to be a very down day - I haven't had too many of these since I've been here and that is good. I think it's better to be busy and not think about what you all are doing on the other side of the world. Kate leaving just put things into perspective - I've got to snap out of it. And I will. . .
Wednesday, Denise and I jumped the subway to explore Xintandi where the American Woman's Club was holding their weekly coffee. Lots of coffee - lots of tea ---- We had our RMB 300 all ready to join there too. They meet at the Coffee Bean and Leaf at 10:00 am. Lo and behold, we saw Sue and Julie there and met Myscha, the president and Stephanie who was taking membership applications. Luna was the lovely Spanish restaurant we ate lunch at and then we were off to explore the rest of the cute shops there. Lots of things we couldn't think about buying. There is a lot of money here in Shanghai...we just don't have any of it. We stopped to see Jack at Vin - the vendor who holds our Shama wine tastings once a month. I ordered a bottle of Marsala so I can cook something nice for Mike. He had some lovely Reislings but none from Washington or Oregon - mostly Australia and New Zealand and France. He's bringing one of those for next week's tasting. Then we stopped at Staples to get some mailing labels and look for some pen refills for Mike - turns out they don't carry them and the lovely clerk wrote an address down for us to search for but we didn't have the time. Another day, another adventure. Denise was looking for index cards. She's determined to learn Chinese in 30 days or less - lol but they didn't have any so she'll have to make her own flashcards out of paper. Resourceful, that's what we are.
Thursday was Innoculation Day for Mike and I. We had to get more shots so Denise went along for the ride and Mr. Chen delivered us to Parkway Clinic and Haya's for lunch. Haya's is the Israeli restaurant we've found. Great hummus and babganoush and pita bread! In fact, they have a fabulous bakery and we loaded up on apple crumb cake and muffins and peach croissants for breakfast. Yum Yum. Then we took Mike back to work and Mr. Chen dropped us at Carrefour for some quick shopping. We were safely enscounced back at Shama by 2:30 and before the frist downpour came. We had 3 storms that afternoon and evening with lots of lightenting and thunder. I love thunderstorms. We lost cable and couldn't watch The Olympics, but we had a grand light show.
Friday, Denise and I ventured out to the beauty salon. Everywhere I've been, every time I've encountered Western women, I've asked them, "who does your hair and nails". More than often, I've heard Eric's Paris. So, I did some investigation and found one of his shops closeby on Heng Shan Road. One subway stop away and a few blocks walk. Actually, it's on the way to Sasha's - our Friday pizza favorite. Stuck between a Starbucks and a Papa John's Pizza Parlor. I made an appointment with Beatrice who did a great job on my haircut and it was reasonable RMB 400 (about $57) and since the shop was clean and well lit with lots of English magazines, we decided to have other things done too. I had a pedicure for RMB 180 (about $25) and Denise got a manicure RMB 140 (about $20). I didn't have my color done and I don't even know how much that is yet - I have to have it done no matter what so money is no object - hehehehe. Anyway, we thought it was pretty reasonable. In fact, the other day when we were in Xintandi, we happened upon the Vidal Sassoon Academy and stopped in to find that their prices were exhorbitant. So I'm sure Mike and Kirk are pleased we've found a good place to go at reasonable prices and we can take the subway which cost about RMB 3 which is about $.40 - yes 40 CENTS. Such a deal. Take that Port Authority . .
Mike and I have come down with some cold symptoms so he didn't golf yesterday - we were just slugs and we did nothing so that pretty much accounts for my week.
Michael Phelps has been the hot topic of conversation here among Western / US people. We are proud as peacocks about him and the other USA medal winners. Although we cannot get any English commentary on the Olympics here, it pretty much runs on CCTV all day. I can see swimming meets and gymnastic tournaments and scull races - I can see who wins - I just can't understand what the commentators are saying about it. We are anxious to see if the USA gets to the Women's soccer finals and we have tickets to the Men's soccer Bronze medal game to be held in Shanghai next Friday night. I'll be taking my USA flag again - I don't go to a sporting event without it. So if you are lucky to get the Bronze medal match on NBC - watch for us. I don't think our seats for this game are as good as the first game though.
Speaking of sporting events - what happened to the Steelers? In Canada of all places. . . and losing to Buffalo - Linda Sherry Larson - comments, please?
Ginny Zapsic Flick tells me the new quarterback is not all that great - he used to play for the Jaguars. Brian Lefkovitz - She should know, she lives there. I wonder if he turns out to be another Neil O'Donnell . . .
Have a great week. I hope to hear from you once you read this. It's my link to "the outside world". I crave your emails so keep them coming. . .