Tag Archives: postaday

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Shanghai

27 Nov

The happy crew

Last Thursday night I celebrated Thanksgiving with a wonderful group of friends that I have met over the last five years in Shanghai.  The twelve of us (some new friends and some old), celebrated with a traditional turkey dinner that had the best turkey most of the table had ever eaten.

I ordered it all – no food preparation in my kitchen at all except for deviled eggs and my friend Marcus who made stuffed tomatoes.  This was predicated by two things – 1) Thanksgiving is not a holiday here, so I had to work on Thursday and 2) my oven decided to break the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  The stress free way, then was delivery!

City Shop, the local supermarket chain has a delivery service and previous years I had had their turkeys as well.  They did not disappoint.

Beautiful bird

One of the joys was that two of my friends brought their kids and so we had four kids under the age of six who were there as well, full of energy and really cute!  It was the first time that three of the four of them had turkey, so I am now part of their cultural history!

Luckily one of my acquaintances had recommended that I print off some Thanksgiving coloring pages to keep them occupied while we ate.  They worked like a charm!  I need to keep that in mind for future events.

Showing off her turkey!

As we were finishing up the main course and before we had a chance to cut the pies that I ordered (my mother’s pie is still hands down better than the pie that was delivered) my parents called!  We were able to use my iPad to connect them to the gathering and share some of our enthusiasm with them.  Technology at its best.

Introducing the crew to mom & dad

Here are a few other photos from our evening.  What a wonderful night!

Monica carving the turkey! She did a great job.

The feast

Li and me

I am thankful for many things including the opportunity to celebrate this holiday here in Shanghai in my new apartment.  It was the first time I had people over and was a resounding success.

I am also thankful for my readers of the blog and your continued support and interest in my Shanghai adventures.  Thank you for your visits and comments.  May Thanksgiving morph from a holiday into a state of mind for us all.

This post is also my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Thankful.  If you’d like to see what others are thankful for, you can click here.

Weekly photo challenge – foreign

2 Nov

The image that continues to capture my concept of foreign was one taken by my good friend Chris during my first Chinese New Year in China in 2008.  We had gone to Yu Yuan Garden with another friend and upon crossing the bridge of 8 turns he snapped this photo.

To me – foreign is not fitting in, knowing that there is a difference between me and others.  As good as my mandarin may be, as many strange foods that I eat, I will always be foreign in China.

Being foreign can be fun – it opens my eyes, it gives me views of things that I would never see.  I’ve visited so many wonderful places that if I was afraid to be foreign would be unavailable.  And that’s the key – the balance, knowing that there are times that I need to go home or eat a pizza or watch TV in English to regroup and be foreign again tomorrow.

To see how others have defined foreign, you can check out the Weekly Photo Challenge here.

Where do you feel foreign?  What places do you feel a little uncomfortable or a little different?  Sometimes that can be a lot closer to home than my China trip.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Happy

10 Oct

The daily post this week had a challenge to post a photo collage on what makes you happy.  What a lovely prompt.

People make me happy and relationships that I form in different aspects of my life.  I put together a list – exploring, food, family, fun, friends, music, the beach, work and travel (with blue skies) and then looked for a photo for each.  It doesn’t really matter if I’m based in China or elsewhere – I think that list is nearly the same for each one of us.  Happiness is universal – the desire for better, the striving forward, the relaxation at the end of the day and hopefully blue skies – or a moon path.

Thank you to all friends and family who follow me here.  I willingly share my happiness and thank you for sharing yours when I’ve needed it.  Please come visit!

If you would like to see how others defined happiness, please click the link above.

Weekly photo challenge – solitary

27 Sep

This week’s photo challenge is on being solitary.  To me, solitary sounds more interesting than alone – solitude is something positive – a chance to contemplate life and ground myself for a few moments.

I think it’s easy to do that type of contemplating when you’re by the sea.  The first photo is when we were at the sea in Shenzhen watching the waves crash onto the shore.  Li climbed down on the rocks and watched the waves while I snapped the photo.

The second photo Li took of me as I was enjoying the peace of the lake near Dali, in Yunnan province last November.  It was a long day and I remember just focusing, closing my eyes and relaxing while I heard the birds and waves.

Both of those photos are historic ones – but yesterday when I was in the office I realized that someone had put a teddy bear on the ledge by the window.  The bear really looked like it was contemplating life and looking out over the Shanghai skyline.  I had to take a photo.

May we all enjoy our solitude.  Which is your favorite?

To see other bloggers ideas on “solitary” please click the link at the beginning of my post.

Urban Shanghai

4 Sep

A construction site near my yoga studio – the old being replaced by the new, framed by a blue sky

An “empty” storefront, that for the last three and a half years was a home and business.

As I have been getting used to my brand new phone, I have been taking pictures at random intervals, including a few that I snapped last weekend on the street.  Shortly after that I realized that the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge had a topic called “Urban.”  I’m a little late on that topic, but I thought these two photos fit very well.

Shanghai is a city of contradictions – the old and the new coexist painfully and with a relentless pace the old is losing ground.  I’ve now lived in the same area for 4 years and more and more old is disappearing, or has been abandoned.  The march of “progress” continues.

I don’t want to romanticize the historic houses.  They often have no hot water, no indoor plumbing, the kitchens are outside or under a small overhang.  If you didn’t have running water or a toilet and someone offered to relocate you, you may think carefully as well about leaving.  The question will be – what will replace them?

In my complex I speak to my next door neighbors, a Mr. Ge and his wife and his son, very rarely.  We nod politely in the elevator or when we happen to be outside at the same time.  That’s it.  Is that what will happen with all the people in the street, living together, playing cards and mah jong?  That’s what has happened in the US.

China still doesn’t seem to see the value of preserving – of restoring – of remembering the past.  Progress, move forward, forget the past – prosperity for all.

Come visit Shanghai before it’s too late.  I have a spare room.  Hope to see you soon.

Eavesdropping in Texas

5 Jun

When I was in Austin spending time with my sister last month I had the opportunity to do some eavesdropping one day.  Given that I was in Texas, the natural inclination is that I pulled out my rusty spanish and heard a conversation or two, right?  Wrong.

While I did hear lots of Spanish – the conversation that perked up my ears was when I was waiting in my sister’s office for her to come back from a meeting.  She has three others in her shared office and one of them is originally from China.  He took a call in mandarin (from someone I later found out was his girlfriend) and exchanged pleasantries and some pretty short information about class schedules.  I smiled to myself as I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting me to be able to follow. Later that afternoon when my sister and I were heading out, I told him – in mandarin – that I speak mandarin and that I’ve lived in China for nearly five years.

His mouth pretty much hit the floor.  It was great – the ultimate eavesdropping.  Luckily nothing of importance was said and all parties left with a smile on their faces.

Have you ever eavesdropped on someone knowingly or unknowingly?  Any funny stories?

Exploring Shanghai – Red Town sculpture garden

22 May

As I wrote about earlier, I spent a lovely morning exploring Hongqiao Park and Xinhua Road.  After lunch I headed to the last stop on the walking tour, which was Red Town.  Red Town is an artistic community with lots of galleries, but there is also a huge central park area of sculpture.  I took several pictures of the sculptures and even tried to include myself in one shot as proof I had been there.  For any trivia lovers – on the side of the sculpture of Albert Einstein’s head it said that he was in Shanghai when he found out that he won the Nobel Prize.  In addition, there are several cafes where you can have a coffee or a tea and observe the sculpture away from the bustle of the main road.

Enjoy the photos.  The sculptures really range from the very life-like (the ladies on the bench) to the entirely surreal – a whole bunch of colored legs.

The whole day was full of interesting sculptures – from Deng Xiao Ping to naked ladies to bicycling clowns.  Any favorites?  What sculptures inspire you?

The Bund at and after sunset

15 May

In my post a couple of weeks ago about exploring Shanghai with friends, I commented that after our day of exploring the older sections of town, we went to the Bund at sunset.  After going back to the US and combing through his photos, my good friend David was willing to share some of his remarkable photos from the end of that day.  These are images that symbolize Shanghai – past and future and the photos speak for themselves.

If you would like to see the larger photos you can click on each photo to see the detail.  What’s your favorite shot?  What epitomizes Shanghai to you?


Christmas in May?

8 May

I was in a coffee shop waiting for a friend a week or so ago.  I hadn’t been before – it wasn’t a large chain, but had comfortable chairs, the ubiquitious free internet and tasty looking pastries.  I had purchased my beverage and just settled into a corner table.  Then I started listening to the music.

They were playing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

I have no idea how that song wound up on their mix tape.  It’s not even the correct time for Christmas in July.  Quite a random event for a Thursday morning.

When the song finished I listened to hear what would come up next.  The song after was some kind of rap mix.  I’m not sure if the random songs are enough reason to go back or avoid the shop in the future.  Even though Shanghai is steadily becoming more international the moments like this – that make me smile – seem to be happening more and more.

What do you think?

泼水节 – Or, how I got wet in Tengchong, Yunnan

1 May

Happy May Day!  China, like most other countries, excluding the US celebrates International Labor Day on May 1st, so today is a public holiday here.  Instead of talking about Labor Day though, I thought I would talk about another celebration, one that I experienced on my recent trip to Tengchong, Yunnan in the middle of April.

When I went to Tengchong,  I went one day later than my colleagues as I had some things that I needed to finish up.   One of the things I have learned in the last four years is that when you are in management you have much more flexibility than you may initially think.  I simply told the coordinator that I would come a day later and pay the difference in plane tickets and he arranged it all, didn’t even ask any questions.  Understanding that cultural difference has made my life easier as of late.

When I landed at the airport a very nice driver was sent to pick me up.  I originally was worried that I wouldn’t be able to recognize him, but he recognized me right away – as the only foreigner in the airport.  We got into his car and took off towards the scenic spot where I was supposed to meet up with my tour group.

He started asking me if I wanted to see any of the other sights in Tengchong which I declined as my flight was already over an hour late and I was ready to meet up with my team.  He initially said ok and then talked my ear off for the next 45 minutes.  It appears that I was the second foreigner he had ever been sent to pick up and the first one that he could talk to.  The other gentleman was either African or African American and had some serious communication problems (and stomach problems) according to the driver.  He started asking me about politics, about my life in Shanghai and I couldn’t help be in a good mood with his honest exuberance in the car.

We started to drive by a square with a large gold statue of a woman and the driver pulled over.  There were people all over the square and they had small florescent pails of water.  It appeared they were running around trying to get each other wet.  I asked the driver what was going on and he said it was a “po shui jie 泼水节” or water festival.  That day was the first day and it was a three day festival.  The purpose of the festival is to get others wet and if you get wet you shouldn’t be sick for the rest of the year.  He proposed we drive through the plaza and take a look.  At that point, I agreed – so we slowly drove forward – windows open to see the festival up close.

At first it was fun to be an observer – I snapped photos and saw lots of folks getting wet.  Then, almost before I knew it, a group of young men started running towards the car and threw a whole bucket of water at the window.  I and my camera both got wet as the driver quickly rolled up the window.  There was nothing I could do, but laugh – so as I laughed and tried to dry off my camera I gave it to the driver and asked him to snap a photo of me.

At least I shouldn’t be sick this year!

Enjoy the photos and let me know if you’ve ever celebrated (or participated in) a festival that is not your own.

Enjoying now

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