Friday, October 22, 2010

Shanghai American

You've gotta understand something. For the last year, I've mostly associated with Brits. I'm not going to lie and say I haven't enjoyed it, because I have (mostly) - normally I can figure out what they're talking about and I quite like their dry sense of humor - but there are times when I've felt a little outnumbered, and even though I know what THEY are talking about, the reverse often proves not to be true (how can you not know what a cougar is? Or how to teabag?) A typical Friday-Thursday in RAK would be me, Socrates, our married friends, and the school drunk...who are ALL British, and actually all of whom have degrees in one science or another, so while they were nerding out on things like gravity I sometimes found myself wishing for someone who would understand why the joke about Toulouse-Lautrec and the prostitutes* was funny.

Oh, how the tables have turned! Last night was myself, Socrates, and two musicians from Minneapolis. It was nice to have someone laugh at my "your mom" jokes and to not have to translate. I could get used to this!

We went to see them play last week - they had a gig at one of the restaurants on Hongmei walking street. This is the "scene" in Hongqiao/Gubei, if indeed such a thing exists. You can get just about any kind of food on this street - Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese...not Korean, actually, but I've got enough of those on my street - and there are plenty of bars as well, many of which have life music. It's also a little artificial, as this is whitey central and you will bump into any foreigner in the area, if you wait long enough. Michael plays guitar and Joann plays cello and they both sing, so it was quite different from the electronic shit we suffered through (for all of ten minutes) the week before.

Before we went out last night I needed to make a run to the bank and Carrefour. The bank closes at five and I didn't want to waste money on a cab, so as soon as we were allowed to leave school I was off like a rocket. Uhh. A bicycle-powered rocket. In fact, I was in such a hurry that I ran over someone. Yep. Well, he wasn't at the crosswalk and he was crossing against the stoplights, so what did he expect? It could have been worse - I only hit him because he hesitated and I slowed down, so it was not enough to throw me from my bike or get more than his foot. If you're thinking that this did ANYTHING to the way I ride, the answer is no. I continued weaving in and out of the traffic like a drunken bat out of hell, and in fact, discovered that it is just as fast to pedal to the intersection of Yan'an and Hongmei of the families I teach left the school at the same time I did, and we kept passing each other, which the kids thought was pretty hilarious. I lost them at Hongmei.

Anyways, I made it to the bank, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a LOT of money left (possibly enough to afford that spontaneous trip to Beijing my partner in crime suggested last weekend), and went to Carrefour, where I wandered for a half-hour before I remembered what I wanted (as I was next in the checkout line...grr) - a mosquito plug-in. I am declaring mosquito jihad on the little bastards as they've kept me up twice this week. I always found it a little troubling when my Dark Lord and Master used to set them on fire while we sat on the smokers' deck at GDA talking, but after two months in Shanghai, I've learned. I am still trying to figure out what else to do to take the fight to them - for now, decorating the stairwell in the gym with their splattered bodies and getting a good night's sleep is enough. But I'll keep you updated.

*Q: What did Toulouse-Lautrec used to say to the prostitutes at the Moulin Rouge?
A: Got time for a short one? Get it?!?

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