10 Things I Love About Shanghai
30/07/2011 11 Comments
Just yesterday, as I was riding the very long up escalator at my local Metro station, I spotted one of my favourite Shanghai things – something from which my feeling of happiness is not derived from a sense of irony, bemusement or desperation. So, it got me to thinking about things I like here. Things that are 100% good.
The Baby Split-pant
Babies anywhere are cute. Babies in China are super-cute. Babies in China in split-pants might be the cutest thing ever. The split-pant combines practicality (the ability to toilet in any gutter or planter-box you wish) with comic potential (accidentally exposing your bot-bot to the world). This baby is wearing a double split-pant.
The Food of the Minorities
Some of the outer edges of China have amazing foods. I particularly love the cuisine of Yunnan (in the same family as Vietnamese and Thai) and Xinjiang (the western, almost Middle-Eastern, autonomous region). Both have amazing breads, fresh salads and great noodles … which means that they have now become a popular choice for the urbanites of Shanghai.
The Bottle Opener
As yet, I haven’t tired of Shanghai’s tallest tower, even though it continually pops in view all over the city. Especially compared to some other buildings, it is a very elegant structure. It has an observation deck at its highest level and a crayzy light display each evening.
The Time It Takes to End a Phonecall
There is a strange habit here of extending the process of saying goodbye on the telephone. I take it as a sign of respect, that the other person doesn’t want to end things quickly. A typical conversation may go something like this …
A: We’ll get the contract signed and sent to you right away. [it’s a business call]
B: OK. Thanks.
A: Great, talk to you later.
B: OK. Bye.
B: Hm, thanks, bye.
A: Byebye, ah, bye.
B: Ok, bye. Bye.
A: Bye. Ah. Bye.
Using the Footpath to Full Potential
Most cultures could learn a things or two about using, and sharing, the footpath as they do in Shanghai. It’s business meets family meets pleasure meets cooking meets meets walking meets meeting meets washing up meets eating meets everything else.
Shanghai’s Amazing Art Deco Architecture
Shanghai reputedly has one of the world’s best collections of Art Deco architecture, due to the economic boom of the early 20th century and the influence of foreign designers. It’s something I didn’t know about before I arrived, and continues to delight and surprise me. That’s the front door to our apartment building on the bottom right.
The Long Sound of Intrigue and Confusion
Imagine, if you will, that you are in a taxi and you encounter a street that is blocked for no apparent reason, or another driver that is attempting something strange or dangerous (u-turn across a median strip, for example). Without doubt, the driver will respond with a unique exclamation – a drawn-out “hmmmmmm” noise that starts low and rises, suggesting a question but also sounding like an observation; a cross between intrigue and confusion; with a tonal style inspired by Scooby Do. If you’ve heard it, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It never fails to make me smile when I hear it.
Cats that Own the Street
The cats of Shanghai would have to be the most confident felines in the world. They just sit (or lie)on the street or footpath, they draw attention to themselves by miaowing loudly, they approach any person they wish. Scaredy-cats they are not.
The Shanghai Pyjama
People are most happy to wear their pyjamas in public. Lots of people … and not just when they are caught short of a dunny roll. People will walk far from home and undertake a series of errands still wearing last night’s PJs. There are abundant theories about why this is so prevalent and so specific to Shanghai. Some say it is like the older Chinese habit of wearing silk clothing as a means of displaying your status as a person of leisure (not some dirty worker). Or, that it is a washday thing – given most Chinese don’t have loads of clothes, there aren’t many wardrobe options while you are waiting for your clothes to dry. Or that it is a way of expressing that you are a real local, not some visitor from a less desirable suburb. Whatever it is, it’s one of my favourite Shanghai sights.
Of Shanghai’s many good vegetarian eateries, Annamaya is king. Housed in a little yellow building quite close to our place, Annamaya serves up a range of healthy and yummy foods, including delicious vegan deserts. Every time we go, we wonder why we don’t eat there more often.