Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 2 - Part 2

Originally written Thursday 14th November:

Leon and I 'did' Shanghai this afternoon. He drove me into the main city centre and took me to a mall, since I had said I wanted to shop while I was here. However, this was designer brand mall, and not the fake stuff either... So no shopping for me! Instead we bought big Chou pastry buns that are piped full of fresh cream, hailed a taxi and at my request went somewhere 'other foreigners' liked.

We ended up in the old part of Shanghai, little two stores buildings, in narrow alleyways with every sort of souvenir shops below that you can think of, silk scarves, to pocket watches, to hello kitty glasses to local food stuffs. Basically, the Shanghai version of Khan el Khalili, without the hassle! 

I ate a soup which had pork dumplings floating about in it. Nicer than it sounds. It also had duck skin floating in it, but I couldn't bring myself to eat that. We didn't however eat or drink in the toilet restaurant. All seats made out of loo seats and urinals hanging from the walls. Mad!

Nor did we go into the cat cafe. You have your coffee in there and the cats sit on your table while you do. Purr therapy or some such thing. I have never seen drugged cats before but that's what these surely were. They hardly moved, even when a kid was yanking a tail, and they were dressed up in pet costumes... I felt really sorry for them. It reminded me of the first time I ever went to sharia haram to a cabaret and, before and after the dancer performed, they had a line of girls come onto stage and just stand there, basically advertise their wares. The glassed over eyes were the same.

We talked about the course, seemingly 23 students every day and a few who are only coming for a few days... So a good core of 23, which I am happy about and looking forward to meeting them tomorrow! After the 'SH Khan' (as I will from now on refer to that area unless I discover it's actual name!) we went round the food market where I was able to get Leon to identify some of those fruit and veg I hadn't recognized earlier in the day when I was in the supermarket, I also managed to get some nice pics too since I felt less intimidated by having a local by my side. 

We took the subway, which has 22 lines and is clean and fast and cheap, to another massive 'city stars style' mall (they are all starting to blur into one in my head now !) to meet with his sister for a dumpling dinner. Pork and vegetable dumplings dipped in vinegar with ginger. Yummy! I feel I have done nothing but eat continually since I arrived. That is not a complaint though, Classes start tomorrow and I suspect these students will make me work it all off! 

Over dinner I was able to quiz the sis on various cultural norms, checking if there were any taboo subjects or manners points I should note... And warning her what we will be doing in class since tomorrow she is doing the translation for me, which is good. I like her and she 'gets' the whole Egypt thing after her time living in Kuwait. We had a great chat about the comparisons between China and Egypt with regards women's rights, attitudes towards sex, marriage, dance, teaching etc etc. it was v interesting. She is not my permanent translator, but I think it will be fun working with her while I can. 

Home (via subway again) and into PJs by 6pm!!!! Me? Jet lagged? Whatever gave you that idea? Night night for now... 

Ps- it is now 6am, I've been awake since 2.30. Wide awake- Working on music playlist for the day's class and listening to more culture of China podcasts (this time attitudes towards sex and in particular the idea that a happy work force is a productive one- wonder if that could be useful information for Egypt to take on board?!) 

So I am wide awake at exactly the times I would be sleeping in Cairo! I suspect though the waking up, as well as being due to jet lag, has something to do with the loud generator noise which I can hear constantly and which sounds like a massive AC unit (not mine since mine is switched off!) I have never been very good with white noise. Ear plugs to be purchased tomorrow! Inshallah.

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