Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shanghai, China March 1-June 19 Week 12

Shanghai brought me to it knees this week. On Saturday, March 14th, I rented a bicycle and rode around the French Concession, finding the boutique of Japanese designer Mayumi Sato and enjoying what seemed to be good weather. I did notice on this day that I had to stop a number of times because of dust getting into my eyes. Little did I know that the air pollution in Shanghai plummeted this day due to sandstorms from the north, and I was out biking in it without a mask. The next evening I started to feel a bit strange, and over the next two nights I endured a painful sleep, waking up regularly soaked in sweat. My throat swelled up so badly that speaking has been more or less impossible this week, and my rehearsal with I-Bai, Chen’s son and virtuosic cellist on Tuesday did not go so well because I couldn’t play more then a measure without coughing. Jing took me to the Longhua Hospital Shangai University of TCM (again!) and upon consulting with my doctor she agreed that it was most likely the air pollution that is afflicting me. I received a prescription for some Chinese herbal remedy, which more even more expensive than the last time (perhaps because of its potency?). Jing and I had lunch while waiting for the prescription to be filled and when we went to pick it up I got angry and scolded a man who attempted to cut Jing in line. I just don’t have the patience for this type of behavior anymore. In the late afternoon, I used my head/shoulder massage vouchers for Jing and I to relax at Dragonfly
I wish there was more to report about what on this week, but this time I was truly brought to my knees. My life is going on more or less as normal – though I canceled my applied music lessons – but everything is a struggle and my concentration is more or less shot because I felt just awful. The medicine has helped the swelling to go down but the cough remains. In addition, I think my allergies have begun to act up as well due to the pollen in the air and budding greenery all over the city, because I now have a runny nose too. I haven’t been to my gym in a while, but I have been going to yoga quite regularly (3-4 times/week). It seems to help a bit and I believe I am making some progress. My teacher Dominic even commented how my alignment is better than when I started three weeks ago. I met another American in my yoga class who told me that the first year she spent in Shanghai was just terrible, and that she finally decided to buy an air filter for her apartment. How can this protect you however, from the nonsense that floats in the air when you step outside your house?
To make things worse, on Friday, March 20th after getting up from an afternoon nap I accidentally banged my head on a cabinet in the kitchen. It was just the wrong angle too, because in addition to the bruise that one would expect from such an incident, the sharp edge of the cabinet actually wedged itself fairly deeply into my forehead. It isn’t to the point that I need stitches or anything, but the bleeding was quite bad and for the first few days it looked nasty. I have been cleaning it daily and applying bacitracin and aloe vera. Together with band aids, it is slowly healing. Pray that I don’t get a scar from this incident, a permanent reminder of my residency in Shanghai!
On Sunday, May 22nd I donned my face mask and braved the streets of Shanghai again. I spent some time exploring one of the most bustling areas of the French Concession, Anfu Rd. I stopped by Mayumi Sato’s boutique again and had brunch at Amokka Cafe, followed by a one-hour orange aroma massage at Zen Massage on nearby Wuyuan Rd. The exterior of this facility is simply stunning, with a beautiful rock garden and water flowing from the side stone walls beckoning in those who walk by. Afterwards, I found Garden Books on Changle Rd. and inquired about special ordering Shanghai Chic, since I can’t seem to find this book anywhere in Shanghai – except for at Sasha's where they are asking 300RMB (the suggested retail price is 168RMB!).

Although I missed the Shanghai World Music Festival over the weekend of May 21-22, I did manage to catch a master class Huun Huur Tu at Shanghai Conservatory of Music on May 24. This event turned out to be one of the highlights of my stay in Shanghai. What an incredible ensemble!

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