Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shanghai, China March 1-June 19 Week 7

When I was in Narita Aiport I was thinking about purchasing underarm deodorant. However, these types of products are so expensive in Japan and the selection is quite limited. In the end, I decided to wait until I returned to China. My flight back to Shanghai was smooth and eventless. Once I landed it was a fiasco with countless numbers of taxi touts attempting to give me a ride back to the city center. I knew that the Maglev was not running but thought that the subway might be, so I made it across the ground transportation terminal. The gates were closed on both the Maglev and subway, so I contemplated what to do. Never look like you don’t know where you are going in China, because someone will evidently come up and try to “help” you. And this is what happened. I stupidly engaged in pointless conversation with one tout who insisted that there was “no bus.” I knew however, that line 2 would bring me directly to Jing’an temple for just 22RMB, and of course there was a bus waiting just downstairs. The ride was terrifying but at that time of the evening it took just 30-35 minutes or so. I caught a cab quickly from the bus terminus and made it into bed shortly after midnight. 
The next day I went to my friendly–not–neighborhood supermarket and attempted to search for underarm deodorant. There was nothing that resembled deodorant so I attempted to gesture to a clerk that I was looking for something to apply under my armpits. She recommended something in the form of a spray that had a nozzle that looked like it could be underarm deodorant, so I picked it up and went on my way. For the next few days I applied this spray to my armpits. The first thing I noticed was that, even though it smelled pleasant, it burned a bit. When I went to Kong’s import shop on 77 Fen Yang Rd. the next evening the clerk there even complimented me on how good I smelled. However, when Jing came over the next day I learned the error of my ways. She also complimented me on how good I smelled, and I proudly showed her the bottle of “deodorant” I bought. At this point Jing broke out laughing and in a moment I learned why. Since I am supposed to know Japanese, Jing was surprised that I didn’t catch the Chinese character for the word 虫(むし), or “bug.” For three days I had been applying mosquito repellent in heavy quantities under my armpits, and although it smelled pleasant it did indeed burn. That evening she took me to a drug store that sold underarm deodorant, and now I have an entire bottle of mosquito repellent just in case! This is what life in Shanghai is every day. You never know what is going to happen.


On Saturday, April 16th, I spent all day with my Chinese teacher, “Dolly,” and her husband, “Thomas.” We met at 10:00AM at Xiaonanmen (line 9) and made our way to the annual Eco-Design Fair. 

“Eco Design Fair is a bi-annual grass-roots community event whose purpose is to showcase eco-conscious designers and products to general consumers. Started in 2008, the Eco Design Fair is the city’s first such initiative that provides the community with green tools to support restorative, environmentally-positive design and lifestyles. Upon entering the fair visitors are introduced to a dynamic retail and educational environment, where people from the city can shop for quality sustainable, organic, natural, non-toxic, recycled, ethical, energy-saving, and environmentally friendly products all at one central place. The Eco Design Fair also serves as a local hotspot, where thousands of families come to shop for innovative designs for the home and family. Fathers can browse eco building material companies to improve their homes. Children can learn how the cycle of nature constantly renews itself, and mothers can shop for the latest in fashion and watch models strut down catwalks wearing the readily available clothes. Teenagers can also listen to live music acts, and finally cool down at the farmer’s market selling ingredients that will eventually be part of a fully natural dinner.”
I bought an exquisitely designed eco shopping bag and some delicious coconut sorbet. Afterwards, we took a taxi to M50 Creative Park, a collection of 50+ galleries housed in reconstituted warehouses, a haven for cutting-edge Chinese urban art. There were a number of quite stellar galleries, with monumental-sized pieces on exhibit in the space. Our favorite was the 1300℃ Color Galaze Space, which specialized in beautiful porcelain work. We spent almost all day looking around the complex and I don’t think we missed any galleries! We didn’t realize that M50 Creative Park is in walking distance to Shanghai Railway Station, so we walked up the road and caught a bus to a suburban area where Dolly and Thomas live with Dolly’s Mom and Dad. Mom served up a delectable Chinese dinner, and I tried to be a polite but lively guest. The father recently suffered a stroke and according to Dolly is quite shy, but he was in good spirits and seemed to enjoy the table conversation.  After watching Shutter Island–a movie with quite an unexpected twist!–I made my way back home in no time at all. The closest subway station–Fanghua Rd.–was 8 kilometers up the road, and from there it was less than 30 minutes back to Changshu Rd.
Just across the street from M50 Creative Park


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