Friday, January 11, 2013

Shanghai tidbits

I wish I could take good pictures of the buildings here at night. Each one is lit up in a different way. Some have lights that move around the building in various patterns, others have lighting that shows off architectural features. In fact, buildings that you would not even give a second glance to during the day look fabulous at night. Maybe New York City or Chicago or other big city has many lighted buildings - for example the Empire State Building is typically lit up - but coming from a suburban-rural area, this is fascinating to me. I enjoy my walk home just looking at the lights. I am sure I will get used to this and then it will all become blase.

I see a lot of young couples on the streets and in the malls. In a crowded country, privacy comes in crowds. Frequently, the man is carrying the woman's pocketbook. I believe this is a common custom when couples are dating or courting. It stops once they are married. So it is a fun people-watching experience to see which couples are in this phase of their relationship. We had an interesting experience when we were here looking for apartments. We went into the Haagen Dazs store to get ice-cream. The entire store was filled with young couples - we were the only ones over 30 I think. And there were a number of public displays of affection. The store has the usual sundaes and cones/cups but also very elaborate sundaes with fanciful names. There is a coffee-table book like menu with these mouth-watering concoctions. The young couples were sharing one of these items, as compared to the long-married ones (us) who each had a scoop of a plain flavor. We did taste each other's ice cream - does that count?

There are always a few people wearing masks - like the ones surgeons and dentists wear. I wonder if they are to protect the wearer against germs or the other people from the wearer's germs. Or maybe it is to avoid breathing in fumes. I haven't noticed the air being particularly bad but it has been raining this week and the rain does clear the air.

As someone who rarely buys brand name items, it is amusing to see all the high priced brand names in the malls and streets here. But this is the downtown area and probably is closer to 5th Avenue than Main Street.

The big supermarket we go to, and the smaller ones that are local, all have sections of foods for various cultures. In the big supermarket, it is a small section. In the ones locally, they are much larger as they cater to the ex-patriates living in the area. But what I find fascinating is that they have foods from around the world. There are Japanese brands, Korean brands, European brands (Swiss, French, German and British) as well as American. I wish I had more time to browse these sections.

Everything except fresh produce is more expensive than in the US. Produce is fresh and readily available and the variety is very large. Even though I struggle to come up with dinner ideas given I have one saucepan, a pressure cooker and a rice cooker to cook in, the food is tasty because of the quality of the produce.

It is a challenge operating appliances where all the buttons are in a language you can't comprehend. Of course, sometimes it is easy - I've figured out how to turn on the microwave by setting a time and starting it. But I have lots of buttons on my rice cooker and I haven't the foggiest idea what some of them are. I found an app that translates Chinese characters and that gives me some ideas. Some of the buttons are for soup or congee. But the app only gives me a literal translation and sometimes the context isn't enough to help figure it out. The same problem exists with our washer. We use the default setting even though there are 8 wash cycles. I hope the dishwasher is easy to figure out. We haven't had to use it yet as we don't have enough dishes.

Two crates of household goods have been shipped by air but they can't clear customs until I have my permanent residence permit. So there are a few more weeks of living in this minimalist fashion before I get them. Work has interfered with my spinning this week so there is not much to report. But this means that I might have sufficient projects in hand to last till the crates arrive. Last week, there was a short period when I was actually worried.

1 comment:

Penny said...

It sounds like you are getting a feel for how it was in the "olden" days. Glad all is well and hoping your things show up soon for you!