Entries from July 2008 ↓

Catfight (continued)

Finally! Here are the clips from E’s camera of the girlfight outside of club Richy from our first weekend out!

Part I is CLASSIC with the car hit!!!! Watch CLOSELY!!

Here’s Part II – The Park Bench Scene

Oh, and recap of my latest adventures are soon coming! I’ve been sooooo busy!!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Like Buddha Baby, A Thing for Architecture n’ UFO’s

Saturday morning started off with some lunch action back at The Thai House with E and off we went on our culturally explorative day!

First stop, the Jing’An Temple - famed Buddhist “Temple of Peace and Tranquility.” We both agreed this was rather anti-climactic especially since one whole side of the temple was being worked on with major roofing construction, but E made me partake in the incense ritual for picture-taking purposes, nonetheless….

Then we zoomed on the metro down to People’s Square, quick cut-through frolic through the park. E had come from having his measurement taken at the Fabric Market for his new suit.. hence his outfit of choice in the pics (for the tailors to copy).

As we approached the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center…Housed in a striking modern five-story building made of micro-lite glass, this is one of the world’s largest showcases of urban development and is much more interesting than its dry name suggests.

I’ve always had a thing for architecture ever since who knows when, but especially after reading Ayn Rand’s famed novel, The Fountainhead. The whole “model to scale” thing has always fascinated me, and then to think these mere displays would become real life buildings is beyond skillful in my book! So upon entrance to the exhibition center, we were greeted by the (currently undergoing construction) Design of The Bund’s Waterfront!

This museum tells the story of Shanghai’s evolution with a spectacular collection of archival photos, meaningless but beautiful exhibitions on wastewater management and other public works. Here is a Before/After look of The Bund:

But that was nothing compared with what we were to see thereafter! The highlight is on the third floor: an awesome vast scale model of urban Shanghai as it will look in 2020, a master plan full of endless skyscrapers punctuated occasionally by patches of green. The clear plastic models indicate structures yet to be built, and there are many of them. Beleaguered Shanghai residents wondering if their current cramped downtown houses will survive the bulldozer (chances are not good) need only look here for the answer. EVERY building is accounted for… this thing is MASSIVELY IMPRESSIVE!! (We played with some camera settings… )

Then they lit it up!! SUPER COOL!

Sculpture Planning of Shanghai 2010 Expo site:

Bidding Plans for Shanghai Expo 2010 from 8 different countries:

Andddd this just in! – The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) seeks to engage a high quality service provider to work with DFAT to refine and execute the design of the AUSTRALIAN pavillion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, expected to be the biggest world exposition in history.

Despite the newly opened Terminal 2, two more terminals are to come for Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport:

On another floor (I can’t remember which) has “Virtual Shanghai,” a computer-generated flyover of the city projected onto a 360-degree movie screen; The camera swoops along highways, over the Huangpu and around the Pudong skyscrapers of an idealized city that may or may not exist. Pretty nifty but also dizzying after a bit…

Then finally, since E had been here before a few years prior, led the way to an underground tunnel filled with restaurants and retail outlets crafting the styles of different decades of Shanghai…

By now, we had done a lot, so an afternoon quencher was in order. Our victim, The Radisson New World Hotel on West Nanjing Road because it just looked crazy with a Sky Dome Bar situated on the “UFO” part on top of the hotel building, overlooking from the west side of People’s Park. (See below, Radisson is the tower on the left.)

Probably not the most safest place to be especially since there were said talks of a typhoon hitting Shanghai in the evening, but we checked it out anyway.

Unfortunately, we were about 1 hour early for opening time of the bar, so we dipped downstairs to the VERY comfortable chairs of the Hotel Lounge Bar where we killed almost 3 hours.

We came out, being greeted by well a Chinese Mariachi Band!! The old folks dancing were so cute!

Then, typhoon-like weather was coming… One thing about Shanghai is that when it rains, you are screwed! All of a sudden the city run by taxis are all filled and getting from Point A to B is not fun at all! Despite all the talks of this threatening typhoon, the night passed with nothing more than a passing rainstorm. I will admit, I was kinda excited to experience one, but at the same time, maybe it’s better that I had not.. I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities for while I am here…

. . don’t burn the day. .

Kite Runner

I had wanted to check this flick before leaving the States, but never got around to it… But just saw it last week and give it a two thumbs up!!

Based on the novel by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner is a wonderful tale of unconditional love, the meaning of true friendship, freedom and forgiveness! Put it in your Netflix queue and be sure to watch the writer/producers’ commentary thereafter!!

Check the trailer:

. . don’t burn the day. .

Oxymoronic ‘Hai

In an earlier skype convo with my friend Mehmet, he noted that many of the photos on my blog seemed to give the impression of Shanghai to be a very modern city. But I explained to him that his observation is only half true. Reason being, as mentioned in early posts, Shanghai is seriously amidst demolition and re-development. I see and feel it everyday here – and not in the scaffolding way of NYC. These workers are out here sweating it out in this humidity and building at rapid speed. The timeline from breaking ground to final erection is mind blowing. Granted, I’ve only been here just shy of one month, but the fact that all of this “modernization” is presently standing (esp in my own neighborhood), knowing that just 10 years ago, was nothing but swamp-land is amazing!

Shanghai is in this stage of Old and New right now and it is only a matter of time when it will all be just New. The other evening, I had arrived early for the opera show, so I decided to capitalize on the opportunity to explore aka get lost in the surrounding neighborhood. (And I really did get a little lost in finding my way back… but hey, that’s part of the adventure!)

First, the Shanghai Center Theatre is situated on a ritzy block on Shanghai’s 2nd longest street, West Nanjing Road (Nanjing Xi Lu). In the same complex is the Portman Ritz Carlton among many boutique shops, with adjacent street shops such as, Salvatore Ferragamo, Marc Jabos, Gucci, The Shanghai Mandarin, and the like.. mirroring 5th Avenue, but much wider and cleaner sidewalk.

However, I decided to kill time by venturing off inwards literally, JUST a few short blocks away from the schnazzy section… and BAM! I was hit with local living! THIS is the REAL DEAL kids! Here are some flicks:

Look out how crazy the juxtaposition is of old and new, modern high rises… just around the corner!! THIS IS CURRENT DAY SHANGHAI!

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Love (Rick) Lucy!

It would be unfair for me to ask of ya’ll to hit me with new tunes, without throwing out some good bones myself! But good thing I play a fair game, so here it is… introducing RICK LUCY!!

I got hit with this last night and have not stopped playing it!!

ABOUT:

Reclusive music maverick Rick Lucy resurfaces after a psychological collapse in the Spring of ’08, leading him to an overwhelming sense of newfound “clarity.” Saddened that his artistic contributions have been minimal at best; he sets out to create his only self-defining work, Erasick. Destroying Beauty, in which he undergoes self-induced medical treatments to reconnect to his awakening. The producer-composer utilizes a variety of handpicked writers and vocalists to underscore the album.

Check these two tracks:

“IRKED MINIONS”

DOWNLOAD “IRKED MINIONS.”

“EXPATRIATE” – I feel personally connected to this title! :-)

DOWNLOAD “EXPATRIATE.”

MORE INFO: DestroyingBeauty and MySpace.

Drop a line and let me know what you think!! Enjoy!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

MUSIC Leads and Feeds

Kids, my ears are feenin to hear some fresh tunes… But with certain restrictions here, I’ve finally settled in and figured out a good hosting portal for sharing files that actually works for me in deliverance and acceptance….., MEDIAFIRE! It is FRESH, FAST AND FREEEEEE!! So load up and bring it! Sincere thanks in advance! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .


A Taste of Peking Kunqu Opera

I was fortunate enough to have been invited by my local friends, Jeffrey and wife, Hua this past Friday night to attend the Shanghai-Beijing Opera. Now, I will admit, upon initial invite, I was a little wary of having my ears bleed for a few hours in an Chinese opera house, but really, how could I decline such an invite – especially from my local buds?! And plus, I’m always down for some culture. The debut show itself was something special as since all proceeds were going directly to victims of the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province (southwestern China), in addition to having actual English translator hosts as well as subtitles! Even Jeffrey was surprised as he noted this was the first they ever had English at a show! – Of course, I was most appreciative of this!

The show itself, as per Jeffrey, seemed to have been more catered towards an international crowd with less dialogue and singing as per norm, and more action/fighting. It was broken up in 4 short plays, including the famed Farewell, My Concubine, as opposed to one story — which made it much more interesting. Overall, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised and even the super high pitch singing wasn’t so bad on my ears! The orchestra to the side of the stage went nuts on the Chinese strings too!!

Here are some flicks:

Shanghai Center Theatre

Here is also a mini clip of the end of last skit…

. . don’t burn the day. .

Playing Ball?!?!

OK! Seriously, what is the deal? As ya’ll know, I’m not one to be into stupid gossip.. but this.. this! On skype last week, my dear friend Gab informed me of THIS scandalous story!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Casting Call & Voice Overs

This place is the Wild, Wild East. Just about anything goes!

So when a new expat buddy referred me to a casting agency where his local friend worked, Beaulamode, I of course, went with it! What the casting was for, I am not exactly sure, but the company itself holds hefty corporate clients such as Sony and good ol’ McD’s. And really, what do I have to lose? This place is good for all of its randomness!

Next, even prior to coming to Shanghai, I had heard about the big voice-over business in Shanghai for English-speaking natives (for English text books etc.), and I totally wanted to give it a shot… even if for just a one-off… So, JJ invited me to tag along to a couple of studio recordings at the Shanghai International Studies University and East China Normal University. After his skits, I was invited to head into the booth and leave a sample voice recording. :-)

Some of ya’ll may remember when I had leant my voice a few years back for GS/Kibi Technologies Music Mobile card.. LOL.. Good Times!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

The Great Cultural Divide

An interesting article was sent to me other day by stateside friend, Deborah – breaking down cultural differences between the Far East and Western worlds. I must say, among all the shenanigans that I find myself in, here on the playing front, I am also taking a rather personal intake of perceptions all around me and most definitely, from pretty much everyone I meet. Think about it. How many times in your life can you show up, “bare.” – where not a single person, knows a thing about you, your past nor your present. It is quite a thrill! But moreover, with that, comes substantial education about self. What I’ve found coolest about living abroad is meeting so many culturally-varied people from all around the world, sharing similar-types of revelations – no matter if it is coming from an Asian, European, African or fellow American. They are already on a certain level of cool for the simple fact of placing themselves in a foreign land. In a rather vulnerable state of “nakedness,” both other’s assumptions and reactions are great tools of learning of ones’ own strengths and points of development. The greatest education is that, self-discovered.

I guess, for me personally, to come to the motherland of my family’s roots and actualize that I share very little in its cultural norms is quite an eye-opener. I mean, I’ve always had a hunch, but now to live it kicks it up a few notches. I don’t want to get into it too much because at this point, I’d probably blabber and divert from the base-article at hand. You can read the full article here at, Fortune Magazine’s “Roadtrip to China: 8 Rules for Work and Play,” but I wanted to comment on a few key points, along with add a couple observations of my own. See below in bold italics for my take…


I KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU.

Here’s a prime example of group-think at work: A Chinese automotive supplier whom Iler knows changed a North American customer’s product without asking permission. The customer was furious, but the supplier didn’t get why. “‘Not without my permission’ is an important concept in Western cultures, because it shows respect for individual authority and individual choice,” Iler notes. “But in China, it’s much more common for supervisors and others to make decisions that affect others without consulting anyone else, because they believe they are acting in the best interests of the group.” If you want to be consulted on key decisions, don’t assume you will be. Speak up.

Slightly different example, but every expat I know has this similar frustration. You walk into a store, say Carrefour and there a usually at least two attendants per aisle to assist customers, (but we expats think, to annoy and confuse the hell out of consumers). The moment you decide to investigate on a product, let’s say detergent – a whole swarm of attendants will come follow you and offer you a gazillion number of options for you to purchase. They will not only bring you various brands, they will OPEN the packages for you to decipher yourself and say they are all the best one in the store! Then, you’ll later get the ultimate, “OK. This is good. Number 1.” Meanwhile, expat is already confused as all hell because majority of products are labeled in Chinese anyway and to have 8 attendants hawking over your shoulder only to bring you 15 options– DOES NOT HELP!! In fact, we expats find being turned completely OFF from purchasing anything at all! But to them, it is providing “good service.”

Not quite the same as knowing what’s best, but related sorta is…. when you go into a restaurant with a group of friends, there is usually just one menu for the whole table, because culturally, one person does all the ordering – fine, makes sense, makes things easier. But goodness, give the whole table a menu please so we can figure out what we collectively want instead of hovering over one hard-to-decipher-menu, as is!! Andddd once you sit, the waiter/waitress will just stand there and wait till you are ready to order versus, let you settle, look over menu, decide and be ready to order. Again, for them, this is providing “good service” – to be by your side yada yada and offer you suggestions etc. I get all confused, claustrophobic and pressured. LOL

But lastly, yes it is true though. Majority of Chinese like to offer their “brilliant” two cents. I’ve learned to just acknowledge with a nod and smile, and move on.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS… REALLY.

Expressing gratitude, even for small favors, is a must in the West. In China, says Iler, “if a relationship is close, such as between friends or colleagues, saying ‘thank you’ for everything is viewed as a way to distance oneself from the group.” Don’t be offended if you don’t hear a ‘thank you.’ It might be a compliment.

I don’t agree with this statement. I thought about my own actions when I was overly thankful to my local friend, Jeffrey for coming to my rescue the other day. I surely hope I did not offend and don’t think that I did. I was raised proper by my Chinese parents and “Please” and “Thank you’s” were always essentials in the rule book.

WHY DO I NEED PROOF?

The Chinese can be vague about their statements, which is why academic papers often lack footnotes and Chinese suppliers accused of selling lead-tainted toys simply argued that China shouldn’t be held responsible – without offering proof. “For a Western person working with Chinese colleagues, the Chinese tendency to be vague can be frustrating.” says Iler. You can ask for proof – say, market research – to substantiate a claim. But don’t surprised if your request is met with a blank look.

Yeah, they kind of work on an “anything goes” policy. Though contracts and outlines are written up etc, if a change has to be made, it’ll be made on an “all of a sudden, out from thin air “tactic. While the impression of Asians to be very organized, efficient etc, is there, I am beginning to feel quite the opposite here. My business expats have a VERY HARD time working with locals here. They say, while there are many “systems” in place, the systems don’t really hold much functional power. However, one thing you can’t take away from the Chinese, is their will power. They can manually CREATE, DO, BUILD whatever the hell they want. It may not be the most systematically efficient, but it will look damn good and give the impression that it is!

I DON’T DO HUGS!

Public displays of affection are common in the West, but they’re taboo in China – at least among adults, even close friends. “Don’t be surprised to hear that a Chinese father has never hugged or kissed his grown children,” says Iler. Save the bear hugs and air kisses for Stateside.

This is a tricky one that I am trying to come to grips with. To not greet someone with a hug, kiss on cheek… or even a handshake is really weird. Meanwhile, the children though, little girls will walk holding hands and young boys will walk arms around each other shoulders. Shrug.

PLEASE, NO MORE EXCUSES.

PDA may be off-limits, but the Chinese have no problem cutting in front of you or bumping into strangers without saying “excuse me.” What may seem like the height of rudeness to us is, by Chinese standards, perfectly acceptable. “In such a highly crowded society, people use any available shortcut,” explains Iler. So try to stay chill.

UGHHHHH! One of my BIGGEST pet peeves here!! I had a discussion with regards to subway etiquette with a couple of my local friends, and explained to them the crowding of everyone wanting to get on and off at the same time is entirely stupid, and asked why don’t people stand on the side to allow folks to step off the train, and THEN step in. (Some platforms do have arrows to indicate this technique, but that means nada to these commuting folks.) Their answer- “Yes it’s stupid, but the train conductor will not wait for anyone either, so they feel it necessary to push through. And if for some reason someone holds up the train, the train will just stop and stall.” But I mean, come one! New Yorkers! – We handle this on the daily!! And yes there are stupid people in NY who do the same thing by rushing in… but just imagine EVERYONE doing it, and that’s when you’ve entered China. I tried in the beginning to set a bit of precedent by standing off to the side to allow folks step off, but only found being pushed from behind to get onto the train. I shot a look, and hands were off. :-) But now, being that pushing is of the norm in this part of town, I’m building my pushing etiquette – but it’s not such an easy one to pick up. I end up feeling bad.

And now here are a couple of my own observations:

JUST SAY YES.

The language barrier is enormous here. China, as a whole, has not socially evolved to become yieldingly tolerant of foreigners. In all consideration, Shanghai vs. countryside etc, you’d think would be the most advanced and probably is, with regards to social etiquettes of its societal mass. However, if even the “international city” of Shanghai can’t get it right, then this country has a long way to go! We expats collectively conclude with all of our travels combined, China is special in that, even if they don’t understand you, they will still say they do… They say, “yes.” A “yes” here can mean a whole plethora of things, especially, “I haven’t a clue as to what you are asking or saying to me, but I do not want to lose face by not understanding, so I will say Yes and hope that you will disappear.” Us expats have agreed to counter this “yes” business, and take them old fashioned teacher-student style, and take it a step further with a follow-up, “Ok, if you understand, then can you REPEAT what I just asked/said?” BINGO! This is when we know if the Yes was a “Yes,” or a yada yada yada.

OH CHIVALRY, WHERE ART THOU?.

This irks me and makes me shake my head a thousand fold. Call me old-fashioned, but it bothers me when NO man here neither opens the door nor allows “ladies first.” OK, yes, this has to do with its male/female relations history over here, but it gets a complete “No Bueno” from me.. but not just me! My expat male friends also have noticed the jerkiness of all of this, because they have found themselves opening doors with intentions of allowing ladies to walk through first, but instead some local dude(s) will bumrush through. Bastardo!! So, I’ll take this opportunity to say for all you gentlemen out there reading this: “Gentlemen, open doors for your lady friends and while I’m at it, walk on the ‘outside’ of sidewalks…with your lady friend on the inside. These small gestures go a long way.”


Of course, people from other cultures who do business with the West must learn all these subtleties in reverse, and it’s not easy for anybody. But, Iler notes, if you’re going to China, the onus is on you to adapt to Chinese ways, not vice versa. As they say, “When in Rome…”

Touche! Touche! And trust, there are plenty more differences, but for now, we all have to learn to accept that we’re on their turf, so … “When in Shanghai….”

. . don’t burn the day. .