The street by our high rise is always bustling, reminiscent of New York's Soho in a way. But this is Shanghai, and one has to look tough, walk with a strong sense of purpose in order to make it through these crowded streets. Here, strangers elbow and bump into one another with no remorse. Beggars clamor to get your attention if you look open and friendly. Shopgirls hawking cosmetics will literally pull at your arm to get you into their store. To everyone I am an opportunity for a sell, but I just want to get to my destination in peace.
The light flashes red, but I have learned early on to ignore their signal. Waiting for an opening amongst hoards of cars passing by, I bravely make my way across the street into a boulangerie for a cup of coffee and egg tart. This will be my breakfast and fuel for the rest of the day until dinner.
A light sprinkle starts to fall as I walk into the subway station beneath City Plaza Mall. The stations here are so clean and brightly light, almost like an airport terminal. I used to be so afraid of this city, but after four and a half weeks I can finally walk with confidence. Learning and picking up basic words and phrases here or there, I can complete errands without hesitation. Each day my skin grows a little bit thicker and I become a bit tougher, speaking more sternly. This is how you have to be in China; Ruthless, confident, and uncompromising because everyone else is like this. I used to smile a lot at shopkeepers, but that only gives them cause to overcharge. Here naivety and general friendliness will hurt your wallet, and in the end your spirit.
After a bit of shopping and bargaining for prices, I am famish. My checklist complete for the day, I head back on the Line 2 home, yearning for my bed.
I did good today. Scored the most gorgeous white asymmetrical Jackie-O dress, a long silk green jewel-tone maxi, another pair of tailored shorts and a precious sheer black jacket with silver beaded trimming. This will stave off my shopping addiction for the next 2 weeks or so.
I've learned that once I figured this city out and accepted its cultural differences, Shanghai has so much to offer. Had I kept fighting and refused to learn how to adapt, this city would have continued to remain unfamiliar, keeping me forever as a stranger.
Until next time!