Good morning everyone!
It's Saturday, January 24th and we're waking up to sunshine and a bright blue sky. It is very cold though - for Shanghai - 28 degrees F which is below 0 degrees C. It seems that anytime you mention cold to the Chinese, and it includes the words "below zero", they freak out. I was telling Mr. Chen our driver about how cold it's been in the US and -58 F in Minnesota and he just couldn't fathom how cold that would be.
I'm looking out the office window waiting for Mike to come home from the dry cleaners and the bank and the number of people on the street is almost minimal - LOL - there is almost no traffic though which is amazing.
It is almost Chinese New Years Eve. This past week Denice, CeCe, Sue and I went to a Chinese New Year Lecture hosted by the American Women's Club of Shanghai and presented by Lawrence Lo (see photo above). He is originally from Hong Kong but his father was a diplomat so he lived in Belgium and in the US. He's a graduate of Georgetown University. Very nice guy and very knowledgeable. He filled us in on what to give as gifts to our drivers and ayis (maids - you know we live in a serviced apartment so we gave each of our housekeepers a hong bao - red pocket envelope). I've also included a photo of Denice and I at Xintandi a glitzy nightspot not too far from Shama. We went there for dinner the other night and posed so you could see the Year of the Ox decorations. The third photo is a photo of some meat hanging in the sun, drying. Yes, friends, they do this at this time of year. I cannot tell you what kind of meat it is because (1) I don't want to look to closely, I get a wee bit squeamish and (2) I don't care what it is because it won't be on my table . . .
I will also add some more Blog notes once we get CNY kicked off. Mike and I might take a day trip to Hangzhou with David one of the (W) drivers. Denice and Kirk are traveling to Hong Kong. Sandy went to Spain and England and Mark left yesterday for the States. Devin tried to leave but the plane had to be towed to the hanger (with his bags still in the belly). He, unfortunately texted us this morning to tell us that he was off to Seoul on the first leg of his journey back to Boston. I hope he gets there - he doesn't expect to see his luggage for a few days. John is on his way to deliver his new baby - a bridal veil fern - to me so I can babysit it for him while he's in the States visiting his lovely wife and children. I hope his trip is smooth as Chinese silk!
As the Westinghouse contingent living here at Shama, Denice and I went to the Oriental Department Store and bought a large fruit basket, some shortbread cookies and some fruit filled candies for the front desk staff and doormen. We are now finished with the gift-giving and are waiting for the onslaught of fireworks to begin. They have been setting some off every once and a while but we expect tomorrow night - Sunday - New Years Eve to be huge! We expect to be up 1/2 the night! We're hoping to run over to Zapata's - a local Mexican bar/restaurant for the CNY feast/free margaritas and hopefully, we'll win some hong bao too!
Mr. Chen told Mike and I yesterday that his son is getting excited about CNY. He is waiting for his hong bao - the little red envelopes - kids receive money too. Parents and grandparents give to the children and then they can go and buy that special toy they've been wanting all year. It kind of reminds me of Christmas though we act as Santa and purchase those toys - sometimes without the child knowing and sometimes it turns out disastrous. I think the Chinese have a great idea - let the kid's get what they want. They also get gifts of new clothes and shoes and coats.
I'm very sorry that I haven't been as diligent in writing since I got back. Christmas in Pittsburgh was very stressful - so many people to see and so little time - we changed our plans at the last minute. Kate and Katie Mo thought it would be good to stay at our house so we could save some money - a novel idea in the times we are now living in. So we went out and bought an Aero bed and sheets, pillows and blankets so we could sleep in Laila's room. Then, Kate felt sorry for us and let us sleep in her bed which was great.
Since we've been back, we've been very busy. It has been quite cold. I've got some great photos to share of some great events we've been to in the last 3 weeks - read on. . .