Archive | July, 2011

Sundays

31 Jul

For the last several months I have been going to church on a regular basis, at least when I am in Shanghai.  I finally discovered an English speaking mass that is no more than 30 minutes from my house.  There is only one mass time – noon – and it is definitely one of the more diverse crowds than I have seen.  I’d estimate it’s about 60 percent Filipino and the rest – who knows, probably 10 percent Spanish speaking and the remaining 30 percent from all over, but English speaking.  During the non-summer months there is a French mass every other week that is currently on sabbatical.

Having recently traveled to Singapore, I wanted to try out a mass there as well.  I Googled “Catholic churches in Singapore” and eventually found out that there was a church with services in English about a 30 minute walk from my hotel.  On my way there I actually passed 5 other churches, but none of them were Catholic.  I was tempted by the Armenian church though – if the service had been in English I would have considered it.

Singapore is a very warm country – the “coolest” it every gets is maybe 75 degrees, so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the church and there was no air conditioning!  There were an army of fans to cool you off and move the air around, but no air conditioning.  My guess is that the expense was too great at the time air conditioning started to become popular and then afterward people all felt – well, we’ve done without it for this long…  This does explain though why I could only find one noon mass, all the rest of the masses were prior to 11am or after 4pm.

The celebrant was from India and told some great stories, so much so that I didn’t realize that mass actually went almost an hour and a half.  It takes a good preacher to keep the congregants involved for that long.  Quite impressive.

After mass, walking back to the hotel I felt like I was melting – ducked into a mall and had a nice foot massage to cool off.  Not a bad start to the day.

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I’ve included some pictures here of the church I went to, as well as some other shots from that walk to services.

My Piano

24 Jul

About a year ago I rented a piano and since my lease was up at the beginning of July, I had to extend.  It was one of the better decisions I’ve made – having the ability to play has been a great stress reliever.  With the extension came one free piano tuning.  Watching and listening to a piano tuner is always interesting.  This time he was a very petite, elderly gentleman who in two seconds flat had the front of the piano off and his tools out.  We discussed some sticky keys that I’d been having ( Shanghai ’s humidity is not the ideal piano preservation environment) and he went to work.

After he left, I pulled out my books and opened one that the rental agency had included in the cost of the rental.  Right after “Redest is the Sun, Dearest is Chairman Mao” is another one of the more famous songs in China – Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai (梁山伯舆祝英台) which I started to play.  Last year one of my friends came over and heard me play it and asked where I learned it, recognizing it right away. When I went to Hangzhou last year all of the electric carts had horns that played part of this song, so it is an ingrained part of Chinese culture, a really lovely song. 

I’ve included a link to the Richard Clayderman version of the song (which is also the name on the book that I have) for you to enjoy.  One more song that is now on the soundtrack of my time here.

LIANG ZHU

 Happy listening!

Drinking early tea in Guangzhou

21 Jul

Last week I had a business trip to South China, both Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Before I left I had lunch with a colleague who had lived in South China and he asked me if I had ever had Guangzhou “Early Tea” aka “早茶”.

I have been to Guangzhou previously a few times, but I had never heard of it, which made me curious. He said that very close to our office was a famous “Early Tea” restaurant and if I had time I should go.  Wednesday night during a dinner with the team I asked where the restaurant was and agreed with another Shanghai colleague that we would meet to go there the next morning at 8:30.

It turns out Early Tea is Dim Sum!  Or rather, dim sum with some serious tea – a separate pot, boiling, tea service with fresh leaves and the waitresses serve you.  Along with the tea you can choose whatever your heart desires from a two page, single spaced menu of dim sum options.  Since the entire menu was in Chinese, I depended upon my colleague to steer us in the right direction.  We had a table full of steamed buns, dumplings, rice porridge, sweet date cakes with coconut milk, egg tarts – truly the best I’ve ever had.  The restaurant was packed with families and friends, drinking tea and eating and eating and eating…

After eating so much, let’s just say I may have skipped lunch.

I think my favorite dim sum are the shrimp dumplings with a little bit of vinegar dipping sauce.  Anyone else have a favorite?

Playing in the clouds

17 Jul

At the end of June our entire team went for team-building in Zhangjiajie which is in Hunan province.  Hunan may be most famous for being the home of Mao Zedong, however Zhangjiajie is newly rediscovered in China because it is where they shot a good portion of scenery for last year’s blockbuster “Avatar.”  Our schedule included rafting, climbing mountains, hikes through the forest and some optional events like seeing the evening show with the mountains as backdrop or getting a foot massage (needed after climbing mountains).

Unfortunately the weather conspired against us.  The first day it was too dangerous to raft because of heavy rains which had turned the river very turbulent – too turbulent for our novice group and the last day it was very cloudy which making taking pictures difficult.  That said a good time was had by all.

I have included a few pictures below.

Teambuilding or traveling with colleagues is a cultural difference, but is actually pretty common here – “market median” when we consult to clients. I can’t imagine in Chicago asking the entire department to travel together over a weekend. While initially I was skeptical, I had a very good time – ate lots of spicy food (Hunan’s specialty) and feel that I now know my colleagues at a deeper level.

I wonder where we’ll go next year?

Rebooting

16 Jul

Hello and welcome to all former readers of the Shanghai Chronicle.  After an almost two year hiatus, I have decided to relaunch my musings on China and Asia in a different forum.   The idea has been brewing for a while now and finally came to a head when one of my friends said that all I seem to do is work.  While I do work a lot, I do a lot of other things as well – and I don’t want to forget those special moments in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I hope you enjoy.

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