Entries from November 2009 ↓

Jump Abroad

Shout out to my friend Josh, fellow expat here in the ‘Hai for sharing me this little CNN editorial on “Moving to Where the Jobs Are.”

A few quotes:

The lesson I learned along the way: Jobs don’t just come to you. More often, you have to go to the job. Too many Americans resist that truth and instead wait for their dream jobs to come knocking at their door. They treat the idea of living in a certain city or state as an entitlement that they’re not willing to surrender.

…could learn from immigrants, foreign students, and anyone else who has the moxie to leave behind family, friends, and the familiar in search of a better life. Those people may struggle, but they’ll survive and get ahead. It has always been this way. And in a global economy, this is how it will remain for as far as the eye can see.

The sooner Americans accept that, the better off they’ll be. The better off we’ll all be.

You can read the full article here.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Match.com in People’s Square

I found this absolutely hysterical!! My girl, WH called me up a couple weeks ago with a “hilarious chinese story” to share. I anxiously listened… and found myself rolling, in tears – totally not expecting her lil’ anecodote of her sighting! She had been running errands through the center of city aka People’s Square one Saturday afternoon, and was shocked to find a corner filled with “senior citizens” holding, posting and passing out 8x11in resume-advertisements of their very own respective grandson/daughters! Think: Your Grams and Gramps on Street Team!!! Ha!! I soooo wish I were there to witness this Shanghai Special Spectacle! She said the park was JAM-PACKED with a bunch of elders reading up on potential dates for their special grandson/daughter.

Items on the ads: age, height, occupation, salary, type of car and year make, with an occasional picture.

How it works: The grandparents (and yes, only grandparents.. not even parents were present!) would scope out some ads, and if they found a “good match,” they would approach the respective grandparent…. head over to a nearby parkbench and start chitchatting (pre-screening) about the potential match. If potential was in the air, they would set up an actual … I guess.. blind date…. for the two younguns. HA!!

Want to read more? I found a lil write up, courtesy of Shanghaiist here. Meanwhile, I am going to try to somehow try to catch this in live action so I can report of it from the front lines. Tee hee hee…..

PS. WH told me that her and her friend were getting nasty looks, as since by strolling through the park corner, they were “intruding” on the elders’ very serious business. HA!! :-D

. . don’t burn the day. .

SHA’nksgiving 2009

First Off! I LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU ALL DEARLY!! This sophomore year in the ‘Hai has certainly given me a fair share roller coaster moments – much moreso than last year, but I’m feeling the love every time I get a little comment / email from a voice back home :-D THANK YOU all for still keeping current with my blog, even though I’ve been admittedly shotty this year with my updates, I am going to TRY my darndest to get it back up and going with the introspects.

Now to the meaty post..

What an amazingly stupendous Thanksgiving this was!! I mean, last year’s was very cute and cosy with 2 buckets of KFC and everyone cooked quick n’ easy sides (even if it meant, that we had to make mac n’ cheese in a wok, as since ovens just don’t exist in China). But, the company of 5 other close friends made it a very rich Thanksgiving dinner in ’08.

But this year…. this year….. raised the bar by 100-fold! I had been off my rockers, all giddy in anticipation for what I felt would be an extravagant feast, and I’m happy to say, I was NOT let down!

The breakdown: We had two ginormous turkeys delivered…and all else was potluck style and/or invade my girl, Karen’s kitchen and cook up a storm. While no one had the day off from work, we all had to scramble ourselves to Karen’s place around 7/7:30pm’ish and start firing up the stove top and mini-toaster ovens.

Final count in attendance: 14 Americans, 1 Chinese-native, 1 Scottish lad.

What was served: two turkeys, pumpkin squares, sour cream n’ chive dip, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes filled with bleu cheese n’ wrapped in prosciutto, rosemary potatoes, brussel sprouts w/bacon and ham, traditional chinese sticky rice w/chinese sausage n’ mushroom, mashed potatoes, mac n’ cheese, bacon filled cornbread, gravy, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, apple-rum granola crisp, chocolate cake, tiramisu, vanilla ice cream, apple-rum cider, flowing red wine….and a taser!

For those who have time, here’s the slideshow for the full night in recap…Enjoy!

…and some photo selects…

We all preppin! with two turkeys waiting to be gobbled up, in the foam cases on the bottom left!

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I made some slammin’ deviled eggs with a special wasabi kick!
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I serve Ed and Jim… and to quote Jim, “Wow! These eggs are a revelation!”
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Ed, Nate and Karen also give their stamps of approval!
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The Home’ettes! 3 ABC’s from NYC in SHA for Year 2!
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Nate and I… and No, we did not coordinate on wearing the same hue… I guess after living together for a while, even roomates somehow meet on wardrobe wavelengths.. “Go Team Red!”
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Turkey # 1 (we didn’t even get to touch the 2nd turkey… the 2nd was saved for Friday night)
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Sweet Potatoes stuffed w/Blue Cheese, wrapped w/Prosciutto
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Mac n Cheese, Pumpkin Squares, Deviled Eggs
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Bacon Cornbread
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Sticky Rice
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We feast!
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My Plate, “Burberry Cup,” and I
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A SUCCESSFUL Thanksgiving, for sure!
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and Jim tases the turkey… (Yup! Random!)
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…and we shortly called it a good night!

and for a lil bonus, here’s a clip of Jim tasing the turkey…

For real…. this meal made me super THANK-FULLLLLL for my surrogate fam’alam in the ‘Hai!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Boiling Vinegar, Really??!

So, we all know that I’ve admitted myself into a much more “local-minded” soon this year. But if you’re haven’t found yourself convinced just yet.. give this lil tidbit a whirl of a listen…

It’s been frigid as I’ve noted before. Kids have been absent and/or sent home if they fail the digital temple-thermometer test that is administered to everyone (teachers and students alike.. yup, me too) as we walk through the school gates in the morning. (Thanks to H1N1, pretty much all schools in the ‘Hai implemented the thermometer test upon entrance, this school calendar year.)

And well, a couple weeks ago, as I walked up the stairs to my first class, my nose started twitching. It smelled as if the school building had been transformed into a kitchen. I walked into the classroom and I saw a boiling hot pot wayyyyy deep in the far corner. All the students simultaneously, while covering up their noses with dampened pieces of tissue, started yelling/explaining why we had “smelly stuff” bubbling in the back room. Turns out, it’s vinegar.
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The local Chinese teachers as well as the students, then, gave me the spiel that boiling vinegar helps kill the germs that are spreading around the room…. and to keep the windows wide open for fresh (FRIGID) air….even if it means the classrooms turn into igloo temps. LE SIGH. Yup, I eye-rolled, and thought: crazy superstitions. (Ya’ll remember my whole thing about the battle of turning on AC and Heater last year. Seems like “eastern rationale” is even more bizarro in this school. But I will say, at least, they don’t mind the heater on as much as my previous school….. even with the windows open at the same time.)

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Kids in jackets and masks (it’s the norm ’round here)…

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So, I ask… boiling vinegar kills germs in the air, really??!! I had to do a lil’ google search on this and found Yahoo! Answers verdict: No. Any thoughts?

“Superstition” from album, Talking Book by Stevie Wonder (10.27.72)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Ninja Time!

Temps have been dropping for real, for real over here, and my body has been shook! I’ve already broken out the multi-layers and my black-colored mouth cover-up mask thingy that I scored while I was in Taipei, to protect me from the FRIGID AIR, crazy construction dust particles, and well, general, polluted overcast ’round Shang’town. It was a great investment, I tell ya! Keeps me warm and I get to look like a ninja!…. here ya’ll go with a bonus close-up of my baby browns. :-)

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. . don’t burn the day. .

Disgrace

Yeah, I wasn’t all so super-enthused to read a book, entitled “Disgrace” either… but I gave it a go.. in spirits to not disappoint our two-person book club. Plus, Nate had said it’d be a quick read, and that it was….

About:

Set in post-apartheid South Africa, J. M. Coetzee’s searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his sexual needs. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced….

Overall:

If you haven’t guessed it already, this book isn’t the most uplifting of all… but I’ve always had genuine curiosity and interest towards SA. In this novel, Coetzee probes the brutal complexities of his native, South Africa, vis a vis a man, who you may not at first show affection towards, but eventually, forced to pity. Through great characterization and variant categories of “love,” Disgrace offers on-the-ground insight into social and political relations in the rich, yet severely troubled South Africa. We give it an “aight.” Pick it up only if you’ve got the time…

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Kids on the ‘Hai Block

Meet my students… (about 100 of them, under my English watch this year)….

Disclaimer: These pics were taken at the top of the school year in Sept. I’ve just been way too lazy to post..So don’t be fooled by the shorts and skirts, it’s turning brick city here now… :-(

New School: (I have no idea why they decided to use money re-paint the school building from beige to pepto pink. Obviously, I was not consulted on in that decision.) But anyway, this is a super small school as the Primary Level – International Division on the Puxi side of the ‘Hai; roughly 250-300 students; They’ve got two larger/main campuses in Pudong to house Primary, Middle and High School sections.
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Grade 1, Class 1:

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Grade 1, Class 2:

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The lil boy in the front, middle, left, with sticker on his arm is such a cutie!!… and soooooooooooooo adorable when he spoke. I wish I had recorded video of him talking…. but sadly, his parents moved him to Rochester, NY in early October. :-(

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Grade 1, Class 3:

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Grade 3, Class 1:

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Grade 3, Class 2:

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Flag Raising Ceremony (every Monday):

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Ni Hao, President Obama!

Obama landed in ‘Hai-town today… and will move onto Beijing next to meet with PRC President, Hu Jintao…as part of his Asia Tour. Obama will be in Shanghai and Beijing from November 15 to 18 during a four-nation Asia trip that will also take him to Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Two Powerhouses. Big Talks. Let’s all hope for the best!

Though, I gotta say, it’s kinda cool for me to be able to say that I checked the ‘Hai before the President. :-) ….and to think, it was only about a year ago when I was jumping off stage/steps in celebration for the man’s win… Good Times!

. . don’t burn the day. .

SH Sights

I know I’ve been depriving you all of pictures….and well, blog updates this year…and I promise, I’ll give ya’ll an introspective one soon…. but here’s a few flicks to keep ya’ll on the hush for bit..

SH is always in rush hour mode, but here it is in “real” rush hour…

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View from Caoxi Bei Road (main entrance to apt):

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Front Gate:

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Courtyard (with my Gym behind the Dolphin Fountain):

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Neighboring DVD Store:

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Coolness Shots In/Around the ‘Hood…

Grand Gateway Towers aka “Two Lipsticks”:

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Random Jewelry Store on Tianyanqiao Road that is Always Packed for some reason…
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‘Hai @ Sunrise in People’s Square:

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‘Hai Cuisine Festival Flop

…gets a MAJOR THUMBS DOWN!! Such a disappointment!

Last month, my friend Josh had told me about the Shanghai Cuisine Festival, and I thought, “ooh la la, I love food and wine and tastings… sure! why the hell not?!” I then told my roomie and some peeps about it, and then, not knowing ‘exactly’ what this exposition was going to be comprised of aside from the obvious: various “fanciful” restaurants + tastings, we went ahead and purchased our pre-sale tickets anyway, figuring it can’t be too bad with food involved.

Well, we were wrong. While this two-day expo was very well-advertised in various city guide/publications, in-taxi tv’s, restaurants, spas, gyms – basically any place appealing to the foreign/affluent crowd, it was really such a joke upon attendance.
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First, the directional tips on their website were confusing and inaccurate to the actual address of the exposition site. (Josh had gone on Saturday but had been having phone issues, thus not being able to give me my requested full report and pointers on the event.) On Sunday, Nate and I eventually arrived with our pre-purchased ticket receipts in hand. We approached the entrance and were told that we had to walk all the way around to opposite side of the building for entrance, because that current entrance was for on-site purchases. (Temps also happened to have risen on Sunday too, and we were both over-dressed and uncomfy.) Puzzled and a little annoyed at the fact that the outside signs had noted “ticket holders,” we grinned and walked out, hoping that it was an easy find. But, my friend Karen wanted to join on the last minute tip and she phoned me being 2 minutes away. While we waited for her, Nate saw some friends that he knew walk out of the expo, stating, “we want our money back.” I’m thinking, UGH, GREAAAAAT! Nate and I had a mini pow-wow and agreed that we had come this far, already having paid the pre-sale, so we might as well stroll in and out. Two minutes later, Karen showed up; we told of her our plan and advised her to stay outside and wait, so as to save her money. Now, we all tried to find this “other” entrance.. but it was ridiculously hard to find with crazy construction and landscape underway… having to walk over busted concrete with no signage assistance, we got a little pissy, and decided to return to that first entrance — with Karen, ABC from SF/NYC who speaks a bit of Mandarin to help figure out this separate entrance mess — meanwhile THIS is the side that the invite and receipt said to enter through. We head up there, and again were directed to this “other entrance.” But, I wasn’t about to have it. It was hot. I was over-dressed. I was told it was a bust, and I wasn’t about to go on a scavenger hunt for another entrance. We had pre-purchased a ticket, NOT to be inconvened. I made my stance to them and they eventually got some other chic to take Nate and I in. She walked us in and THROUGH the exhibition to the “other” entrance, where workers were at the counter with clipboards of pre-purchased ticket holders’ names. The chic found Nate’s. We waited for her to find mine. We waited some more, and then some more. Finally she asks ME to find it. I flipped the page and pointed to my name. (*shaking my head again, just thinking about it* — Sorry to sound all snobby, but I just wasn’t in the mood at that point.) She gives us each an envelope with our name. Inside each envelope is a plastic card with our name/bar code. I thought, “wow, they really spent money on this! printing names on plastic cards as invite; at least this is kinda cool.” We walked in, and the dude takes our card and never gives it back. OMG. That is sooo stupid. No swipe, no “souvenir.” Nada. What a waste of production money, seriously. (me thinking, I shoulda ran this event!!) Finally, Nate and I made our quick little round. We were lucky to find some restaurants with bite size tastings; the majority were selling small portion samples at a discounted price from their regular menu. Can we say, rip-off? Anyhoots, N and I managed to get a slice of pizza, cheese, this other “eh” thing and a lil sip of some French wine. I had texted Karen that we were going to be out in 20min. We made it out in 10.

Here’s a few shots nonetheless…
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Next stop, we hit up brunch on our own accord, then boogie’d our way to the Foreign Bookstore on Fuzhou Lu. (I’ve been spending alotta time there this year.. and I’m liking it! Though, book selections could be better, I’ll take what I can get. I miss B&N @ Union Square soooooooooooooo much!!)

A bit bummed over the whole “Cuisine Catastrophe,” Karen and I decided to make our first lil’ Sunday family dinner at my place. After the bookstore, while N went home for the gym, K and I hit up the store for some groceries. Gotta love City Shop! – the foreign market. I swear, I feel back at home when I walk in there. But, EVERYTHING is so super pricey as since all is imported. PS. A bag of tostitos is $8 USD!!! Anyway, we went in for some fresh salmon, veggies etc..

Got to my place and started the cooking festivities; soundtrack by Lykke Li. We went all out, topping off with a bottle of Prosecco.. Take THIS, “Cuisine Festival Flop”!!!…
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and say hi to my girl, Karen and roomie, Nate…
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..and ended our evening with a throwback viewing of Almost Famous. :-)

(Sorry, pic quality is kinda ehhhh. I gotta change my settings…)

. . don’t burn the day. .