Famous couple on the Bund looking at the PuTong side
Last couple of days I have been sick, which put a hold on some of my weekend plans. Last couple days we stayed home more – which was fine because we finished Season 2 of “24”.
I had to buy some diarrhea medicine from the Friendship Store (the local pharmacy was too far away for me to walk to without incident, and I didn’t want to aggravate Haga with another attempt at this). The “pharmacist” – a flamming Chinese guy who looked like Jeffery Brison in his coffee-shop-tarot-card-reading days (very skinny, hair combed over like an 1985 new wave mod, )- diligently tried to explain to me the pros and cons of different medicines. There was the Chinese medicine – “Direa Cure – 6 tabl”. There was the Japanese medicine, made from the bark of an Upalumpa Tree which grew on the east side Mt. Fuji. And there was Smetca, a powdered oral medication with English description and instructions. Guess which one I picked.
Last Thursday I went to some bars and clubs by myself while Haga attended a Japanese party. I didn’t really go into any club…just scouted out the scene. I walked around for several hours. At the end of the night, I got this idea in my head that I would try out a foot massage place before I went home. I went in side and was taken to a room with a bunch of puffy leather chairs. There were other rooms full of Chinese men who were smoking, and a room with some foreign women, but no one else was in my room. The masseuse – a 20-something year old round, short, ad strong girl – came in with a bucket of scalding hot water, in which I soaked/ burned my feet. She then took my feet out of the water, oiled them, and them began to systematically crush my feet. Here is what we talked about:
Jesse: You know, this is sort of painful
Girl: We Chinese have a saying; “First bitter, the sweet”. You understand that?
Jesse: Yes. But I have a saying too; “First sweet, then sweet”.
(Pressure on my foot increases)
Girl: Does your stomach bother you now?
Jesse: a little … but … my … feet … are … in … pain.
Girl: That is because you have a stomach problem.
Jesse: I have a little diarrhea [this was Thursday when I was just getting sick] but my feet hurt because you are crushing them.
(Pressure is applied to different location of foot)
Girl: Do you sleep well? I think you do not sleep well.
Girl: Because this part of your foot is in pain
Jesse: I don’t sleep well because my bed is like a wood board, but that part of my foot is in pain because you are causing me pain. It has nothing to do with my sleep.
Girl: Of course it does. Every part of your body and your foot has relationship. This part of your foot is [girl starts using Chinese medicine terms which I do not understand]
So I got a lecture on Chinese medicine. At the end, my feet did not feel sore from walking, and the torture pain wore off quickly.
On Friday, even though I was pretty sick, we went to Simchat Torah services at a shuel. We arrived late (because I’m a Covner, and because we found out it is very difficult to get a cab at 6:00 at our apartment because the convention center across the street lets out at that time). The shuel was located in a stand-alone house/mansion about 1.5 miles from our apartment. We walked in and were shocked; men and women were sitting separated by a wooden trellis fence. They were singing melodies I didn’t recognize at all. The rabbi was wearing a large black hat and black coat. A woman came up to us, looked at me and said “You sit on that side. She will be fine”. And so that was how it went. I prayed (although I can’t read Hebrew anymore and I didn’t know most of the songs these guys were singing). I danced around the Beema and held the Torah. Haga, the women and children danced in a separate section. She seemed to have fun. None of the women wore head coverings or seemed particularly orthodox. I sort of felt it was silly to separate the women because they couldn’t be as active in the celebration…although that may be what the women wanted.
Later, we ate kosher chicken and couscous and delicious salads. Supposedly a kosher butcher was flown in from Israel to specially prepare the food. The rabbi poured vodka and passed it around to everyone. It was a fun time. I think the rabbi was orthodox, but because his mission is to provide service to all Jews in China, his service was very inclusive and I appreciated that.
We did a couple of other things recently. Haga and I went to the “Bund” on Sunday. The neighbors downstairs painted their room and the paint smell has wafted into our apartment; I have bitterly complained 4 times to the building management about that. I went to a job interview on Friday. We at Xinjiang food again on Sunday.
I will try to update this more often since I’m getting complaints from all you guys. Oh…also, I’m taking a hip-hop class at the gym tonight. And there are some more new pics in the gallery (look to the end to see the newest)
Eating Xinjiang food. Notice the bread and the spicy chicken potato stew.