Posts Tagged ‘Shanghai

01
Jan
13

Xinnian kuaile – Happy new Year!

新年快乐!

Thank you for reading and following!

Here’s a little glimpse of our world….

China Time Lapse

06
Sep
12

Morning traffic

The traffic I am referring to here is mostly not the four-wheeled kind that we encounter on a daily basis as we rush, crawl, swerve, hoot our way to work in the mornings. This is about the traffic we encounter in our daily jog around the park – in the interests of health and exercise!

Traffic varies from day to day, depending on the weather and what time we stagger out of our 12th floor apartment to lope around the track in our complex. Weekends also bring out different groups of people.

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The regular traffic consists of:

  1. The walkers – a group of three – two men and one lady that stride around with intent and purpose. We greet each other and they are always obliging and step out of the way to let us run past.
  2. Old man walker No. 1 – he keeps to himself and follows an interesting route, swinging his arms enthusiastically. He never says much: head down, don’t talk to strangers.
  3. Old man walker No. 2 – another chap that wanders around on his own, but seems to be less focussed than Old man walker No. 1. Sometimes he joins the group of 3.
  4. Tai Qi lady – she dresses the part and performs her moves, even brandishing a “tai qi” sword on occasion.
  5. Tai Qi gent – he’s a new addition to the morning traffic – he picks a spot on one of the wooden decks next to the central pond and does his stuff overlooking the water.
  6. Various other joggers – some more fit than others – the man in the orange vest pounds past us when he is not do stretching exercises against one of the low walls alongside the pond. I can outrun the gent in grey tracksuit pants and white vest (or no vest on a hot day), but he gets a bit irritated with me and so he speeds up to overtake me and then heads for home!
  7. American strider man – he’s always walking against the rest of the traffic.
  8. Young couple trying to get fit – they walk at a fairly leisurely pace.
  9. Bird and cat lady – she brings a black bird in a cage to get fresh air and then feeds the stray cats and kittens that live around the property – not sure if they come for the bird or the food – probably both! The other day one of the kittens thought that she was late or not coming and it tried to waylay me with cute purrs and “pick me, pick me” manoeuvres in the middle of the path.
  10. Mom/granny with baby in pram no’s 1 through 10, and mom/gran with toddlers on baby bikes no’s 1 through 5 – on the days that they are all out in force comparing and bragging about baby development stages, trying to stay on course becomes a major problem – one has to dodge and dive around prams, babies, ranks of mothers and other obstacles. A few months ago, M was sent sprawling into the pebbles and lawn next to the path as one of them stuck her leg out and tripped him as she bent over to rearrange the blankets in the pram. Oh – so sorry….
  11. Tall foreigner lady with tiny baby – sometime she joins the other mothers, at other times she seems to prefer her own space.
  12. Dog people: mostly poodles, one or two labradors, some mixed breeds, chihuahuas; some on leads, some wandering freely; some with diligent owners with poop scoops, others with less socially-aware minders. Occasionally a dog fight threatens to break out and then everyone scurries to replace leads and reign in the delinquent children dogs.
  13. The gardeners: weeding, cleaning the ponds, clipping the trees and shrubs, picking up other people’s rubbish
  14. The ayi’s on their way to clean other people’s homes
  15. Since the new school term has started we see children off to school. Sometimes the older ones head off on their own, sometimes they are accompanied by a parent that carries their bags for them.

Non-regulars/random people:

  1. Man looking at his cell-phone – he moved 20 metres in the time that it took me to complete 6 laps – and 15 of those metres took place between my lap 1 & 2
  2. Lady in high heels looking like she wants to get fit but forgot which shoes to put on.
  3. Dancing lady – she does pirouettes and twirls along the path
  4. Pyjama people – wandering around in your pj’s to go to the local shops or for a walk is totally acceptable here – they tried to do away with this custom when Shanghai was on show to the world during the 2010 World Expo, but local customs don’t change easily – and why should they? Pj’s for outdoor wear are generally modest
  5. Random men looking like they were kicked out of their apartments by wives to encourage them to get exercise or go outside to smoke: sometimes they just stand/sit in one place.
  6. More cellphone people

[Sorry – No recent photos – I’m too busy concentrating on running and breathing and dodging the dogs and the prams….]

[I also wrote about the morning people in the early days of my blog: there are more people now, but much is still the same as it was then.]

03
Aug
12

Road creep… or….dash

Yesterday, while waiting to catch a taxi to the office, I realised what the behaviour of the motorcycles and moped and scooters at our busy intersections reminds me of!

Let me try to paint you a picture….

Let’s say you have a dog, or maybe two. When you have an area in the house, e.g. living room where they are not allowed, it’s as if there is an invisible line drawn between the go/no-go area where the dog is/isn’t allowed. Let’s say that the aforementioned dog wants to come into the no-go area – after all, in the dog’s way of thinking – if everyone else is allowed there, why should I be excluded? And yet, they actually know all about the invisible line because they have been chastised before – often! – for crossing it.

So the animal follows one of two approaches: firstly there is the SLINK (a.k.a. the CREEP) approach. The dog starts off by standing or sitting just outside the invisible line. The facial expression is usually one of boredom and arrogance I SO don’t want to cross this line, so I am CHOOSING to stay on this side. No one is going to accuse ME of bad behaviour.

Then the next stage involves lying down with a paw – only one – tentatively stretched towards the borderline. Even hawk-eye at Wimbledon Centre Court would have a hard time refereeing this line-call. The accompanying expression is always one of feigned innocence and total blamelessness.

The next effort probably involves turning its head away – if I can’t see you, you can’t see me. If I’m not looking at you, you won’t notice me. Everything happens with excruciating stealth and slowness – there’s a strategy here – slow movement will not draw attention and you will forget about me, you’ll hardly know I am here!

Then comes the shuffle, or wriggle, or squirm that moves a further paw, and a head and eventually – if ignored long enough – the rest of the body g—-r—-a—-d—-u—-a—–l—–l—-y into the no-go area. If success is achieved, all movement ceases, but invariable the delinquent animal is so proud of its achievement and after all, it was actually trying to join in the party, that it cannot help but give itself away in its delight at managing to get so far….and is summarily booted out, temporarily defeated, but not surrendering. It will flop down on the “right” side of the invisible line and humph and sigh at the inequality and unfairness of life.

The second possible approach is far more brazen. With total confidence and declaring no prior knowledge of EVER having been told that the area is off limits, the dog casually strolls in and lies down, feigning sleep and possession of this piece of real estate immediately. This method relies on the strategy that if I pretend it is not an issue no one will know that it is an issue – after all, it is perfectly natural for me to want to be here and now I AM here!

– Personally, I think that the over-confident strategy is far more likely to be effective, but you may disagree!

Anyway, what’s the point of my story?

The two-wheeled vehicles at an intersection tend to follow one of these two approaches when waiting for the traffic lights to change in their favour. Some of the cyclists SLINK/CREEP/EDGE out away from the safety of their side of the intersection – and are often “more than two paws” into the centre of the road by the time the lights go green, sometimes to the extent that they are already blocking the traffic flow BEFORE the lights have changed and the motorists have to weave around them to proceed.

Others are far more bold and don’t even slow down as they sense a gap in the crossing traffic and belt through to the other side without as much as a bat or blink of the eyelid! No hesitation, total ownership, speedy achievement of goals = immediate success!

27
Jul
12

Let’s play Courier, Courier…

Actually, let’s rather not play this game – it can get a bit complicated. And very exhausting. The rules seem to vary from one day to the next, depending on which courier service, which courier messenger does the delivery, if his mobile is working or not, what the customs official had for breakfast and whether the sky is green!

Over the last few months we have received a few parcels from overseas – varying from online shopping, to parcels of documents sent by clients and gifts from family members overseas. This appears to have stretched the capacity of the various courier services to the nth degree, or maybe it is just my nerves that have been pulled.

Most delivery companies have 3-letter acronyms for their names, but in my thoughts their names consist of 4 letters and lots of those characters at the top of the keyboard that you need a SHIFT key to access. The most consistent behaviour has been by the government postal service: +/- 10 days delivery from the UK to Shanghai via a sorting centre in Hong Kong or Guangdong province – except for one book that went via Beijing and arrived in its own special postal sack after taking a detour through customs and ending up in a locker in the back office of the local post office – Read more here!

Courier services are another matter. Sometimes they phone ahead to check if we are at home to receive the delivery, other times they just arrive and then phone in a sort of perplexed sort of way that no one is at home during office hours. Sometimes the service centre person can speak English, sometimes not. Sometimes they leave the parcel with the management office at our apartment complex, other times they won’t. Sometimes the office sends us notification about a parcel, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are happy to deliver after 18.00, others say they only work from 11.00 – 18.00.

“So sorry for you, you will just have to leave work early, not our problem.”

“Yes, you can change the deliver address to your office address, but you need to fill in a form.”

“And you need to put the company ‘chop’ (seal) on the form.” ~ But it is a personal parcel, addressed to me, not the company – why does it need the company chop on the change of address form?

“If you want it delivered to the company, the company needs to supply the chop to say they are happy that the parcel is delivered to the company during office hours.” Whatever!

My Mandarin is passable and if all is OK, I can get by tolerably well, but I have realised that problem-solving takes foreign language acquisition to a whole new level. I don’t can’t do problems in Mandarin, especially over the phone – time to admit defeat and hand over the phone to the nearest local speaker.

Last month I ordered some paintbrushes from the UK – the parcel went via customs and collected a fee for import duty.

No phone-call. Courier arrives at apartment during office hours. No one is home. No phone call. After 10 days I am wondering what has happened to my parcel. I track parcel on internet and see that a delivery attempt was made for the previous 3 days in a row.

Phone call centre. “Do you speak English”, I ask in my best Mandarin. Helpful call-centre person puts the phone down.

Skype message to staff member still at the office and ask him to phone call centre. Yes, have tried to deliver for 3 days, no one home. Can’t deliver after 18.00. Please deliver to office tomorrow.

Need form + company chop.

Next day at office: Download form from internet – chop, scan, email.

So sorry, please put address in English and Chinese. Download, chop, scan, email.

So sorry, please sign and chop. Download, chop, sign, scan, email.

Phone call from warehouse – trying to deliver parcel, no one is home. Have you spoken to service centre? We have asked to change the delivery to the office address.

O.

No, service centre and warehouse and delivery guy are not in communication.

Phone service centre. Email hasn’t arrived yet. Please phone the warehouse, they don’t know what is going on.

So sorry, please wait a moment. Email has arrived, must contact warehouse, maybe parcel will be delivered today.

Phone call from warehouse. Cannot locate delivery guy, maybe not today.

Delivery guy arrives at office at 14.30. Everyone happy…..and exhausted.

Fast forward 5 weeks….

Different courier company, different parcel, different rules. Phone-call. Some English: parcel has arrived, no one is home. Problem. Hand phone to staff member. No delivery after 18.00. Tomorrow 17.00, please. No problem.

Rush home from work early. Tell taxi driver to break more road rules than usual to make it home by 17.00. 3 missed calls while in taxi.

Phone call as I arrive at the door. Some of her English, some of my Mandarin. Anyone home? Can we deliver now? Sure, here I am! I came home early and stressed out at least one taxi-driver.

Phone-call 5 minutes later. So sorry, cannot contact delivery guy – maybe tomorrow? AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

————————————————————————————

P.S. Thanks for the parcel, Lilly!

22
Jul
12

Navigating Shanghai Library and its rules to locate and check out gems in English — Shanghai Daily

Now I know why I haven’t become No. 1 loyal subscriber to the “local” library. Here’s my secret….pay careful attention to the secions on p. 2 about how to check out a book!

Navigating Shanghai Library and its rules to locate and check out gems in English — Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China New.

Anyone want to meet me at the library next week – looks like we might be there for a few days…..

26
Jun
12

The Bund at night

One of our favourite places in Shanghai

26
May
12

Pretty nuisance

One of the local “thrills” (aka stress tests) that I like our overseas guests to experience while visiting us, is to gauge their reaction to the local traffic customs and driving traditions.

One of the highlights of most visits has been the somewhat challenging, stomach-twisting, eye-opening U-turn across Wuning Lu after a visit to our nearest branch of Carrefour. Because the actual store is located down a side-road, to return to the mainstream traffic after shopping, one has to pass underneath Wuning Lu Bridge, resulting in the taxi pointing in the opposite direction to our apartment. After coming up from under the bridge, the taxi is always in the far-right lane, which means one can only accomplish a U-turn by using the pedestrian crossing if the traffic lights are red for the 5 other lanes. This is quite an impressive feat, but you have to get the timing with the traffic lights right.

Up until recently, if one had the misfortune of a green light, you could travel about 80 metres across the intersection, changing lanes along the way and then do a pretty neat U-turn directly into the oncoming traffic: aforementioned challenging, stomach-twisting, eye-opening, breath-stopping “local” experience for the uninitiated. So cool for the seasoned veteran of Shanghai traffic – yeah! A glorious “we beat the system once again” moment.

Now it appears that some joy-killer in the traffic department has decided to eliminate this tourism opportunity by pretty-fying the road – for about 2km’s! No more U-turns, unless you have the fortune to encounter a red light and an uber-gung ho taxi-driver willing to take on the pedestrian crossing version.

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Maybe when spring is over and the flowers die, we can re-instate this part of our guest itinerary again!




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