Oct 162003

View from my balcony. There is a larger version (for printing) in the gallery.

So I found out that I could have bought my cell phone in China for cheaper.

I’m in Starbucks writing this. We are on the west side of Shanghai in what is called the Chang Ning development district. Its a lot of big hotels and shopping malls. Its a good 15 minute taxi-ride to get downtown…but since that only costs $3, not too bad.

Now that I’m here, I need to finish getting set up and then build a routine. The routine should include making contacts with foreigners, finding new restaurants, exercising, and getting together some business plans. I guess I’m writing this down now because I’m freaking out with so much to see and so much to do. I’m also freaking out a little about my long term plans (or lack of clarity on said plans) I’m a little sick and my throat feels more sore because I’m asking everyone questions. Everyone is giving me the first answer that pops out of their butts.

So back to where I live. Imagine the Belagio hotel. Only the fountains dried up and cloths are hang-drying from some of the balconies. Now imagine the hotel is surrounded by office buildings inhabited by China’s top 207 state-owned banks, and a bunch of Korean and Japanese companies. On the lower floors of those office buildings are Japanese and Korean restaurants. On an adjoining street is a shopping mall with a *gasp!* Starbucks. Starbucks is all over the place now. There is also a gym, but more on that later. Walk about a mile away and you are back in the old-school concrete universe that is 1960 China. Here you can buy a dim-sum feast for $1.50. Or buy a live chicken to bring home for grandma to kill. Within the concrete universe, about a mile from our apartment, is a Xinjiang Muslim restaurant, 20 dumpling-king restaurants, a smallish computer mall, lots of bad-fashion stores, and a few DVD stores.

Now, if I was so inclined to spend $30 on “dao-ban” pirated media, I would probably buy high-quality, boxed copies of the following: The complete 8 disc Season Two of “24” (very very entertaining and addictive), Lawrence of Arabia special addition, Warriors of Heaven and Earth (Chinese martial arts movie…don’t know if its good yet), The Animatrix, Betty Blue (Haga wants to watch it), Glengary-Glenross (I want Haga to watch it so she understands some references in the Simpsons), MS Office XP, Windows XP, Photoshop 7, and Dreamweaver 4. Also Nora Jones, Cui Jian, and David Bowie music CDs. We are keeping our eye out for clasic movies and some old Chinese singer that my friend Patrick wants.

The last week I have been dividing my time between exploring my neighborhood, doing University of Phoenix work (which is getting to be a real drag), taking care of regular business (like washing cloths, fixing the POS computer, etc), getting a job-search routine up, and exercising. I’m a member of a gym now. There are a couple of other, older foreigners there…and they all have young Chinese girlfriends. This makes Haga sick, but I’ll let her talk about that if she wants to. The gym is cleaner than 24 hour fitness, but costs about the same. Its a little weird. Chinese people stare at me when I’m working out, and a bunch all comment on how strong I am. Its like in their eyes being tall is the same thing as being strong.

So I went to two job interviews. One was with a Chinese commie state-owned company that wants to open an online IP B2B site and needs a Westerner to manage content and do marketing and be happy with $800 per month. I learned some good Chinese words in the interview, but I would not take the job even if they gave it to me; the boss had too much of a resemblance to my old boss at Tekcon, who I almost killed. I also interviewed for a corporate “outward bound” type trainer position. I was feverish and had diaria during the interview. So I ordered congee porridge (the interview was in a cafe) and after the interview I forgot to pay the bill. The interviewer called me up and invited me to attend one of the training sessions to see what its like – but he won’t pay me because he paid for my breakfast already.

Chinese people are so friendly. Some are friendly because they want something from me. Most are friendly because it is in their nature. I don’t think it is in my nature, and I sometimes feel guilty about this. People want to be my friend, want me to come over and hang out. This is just not how I work. The irony is that Chinese people think that foreigners are very open people. I will need to changing my outlook.

This Friday I plan to go to Jewish services at a rabbi’s house. That can be cool. On the weekend hopefully we will be able to go downtown. Haga is doing great…but now that she has her part of this blog, she will tell you in her words about what’s going on.

 Posted by at 12:47 pm

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