So, I didn’t post a note yesterday, as nothing really out of the ordinary happened, but I’ll summarize the day anyway: I woke up in the morning, went for my first Chinese lesson- or “music” lesson perhaps, as most of what we did was practising Chinese syllables and tones- then back home to shower and change (a task that must be completed at LEAST twice/day due to the extreme weather conditions), out with the group for dinner at a restaurant (with 95% of its customers being “Westerners”) and then to a club/bar for (a) drink(s). I write “(a) drink(s)” because the group split- 75% to get drunk in a club that had an offer of “8 Pounds all you can drink” just for you to find out you were eventually going to part with a whooping 50(!!); and 25% heading further down to get a drink (me: cocktail) at a proper (English) pub.. lol, don’t ask.. it was just about ok. “It” being a Pinacolada. Anyway, that was about it for last night.. we took a cab back to the hotel and paid 45 Rmb for a 35mins ride. (Converted- for simplicity sake- making it £4.5 for a group of 4, or: £1.1 per person.. yay!)
Today’s events (and that is where the title stems from): After classes at noon (12:00- 2:00pm) Sarah and I (she should be familiar to you by now: my roomie!) went to a shopping mall.. or should I say a dozen!! It’s shame our hotel is located rather far from the city centre: it’s a 25min ride on the tube. Putting that aside, they have like EVERYTHING here.. put expensive New York, busy London, beautiful Vienna, and charming Paris together, that is Shanghai for you! They literally have (almost) everything in the city centre! Huge department stores selling both local and foreign “goods”.. from designers to highstreet stores, you name it. Desire it, and you will find it.. and find it you will, with the infamous “luxury tax” attached toit LOL. It was funny and shocking at the same time; but then again, I guess it’s more or less the same around the globe: if you are wealthy enough to afford luxury goods in a developing country, you might as well pay double for it. Prices are highly inflated (at least +35% for “designer” goods), and prices at average stores (such as H&M, Zara, Mango, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones etc.) are really just the same. M&S (oh yes, they’ve got that here too lol) is 125% more expensive!!
Shanghai is all that and more…MINUS cultural diversity! And I say that scratching and shaking and bowing and lifting and tilting and stretching and co.-ing my head! As beautiful as the city centre was (see previous paragraph), wherever we went, there were people staring, and giggling, and running, and drawing close, and taking pictures. It was ARGGGGH to say the least. I think I probably wouldn’t have minded if they had been at least courteous enough to ASK whether it was ok for them to take a picture of me (the purpose of which I wouldn’t have understood still), but just standing right in front of a stranger snapping pictures?? Nah.. that’s just plain wrong! What kind of upset me the most was the fact that no one even found it necessary to be discreet about it. There were a couple of mothers walking around with their kids; the mom would say “See!” pointing at me, and the kid- not understanding what the mother was pointing at- would wonder, turning around in a circle; the mother would then- not to waste any more time- drag the kid to my front, point at me, giggle, have the kid examine me for a few seconds, and eventually walk off. A few smiled and waved their hands, some just started, others opened their eyes and covered their amazed mouths, some deemed it important to welcoming me to China, saying “Hello, Hello”; and then, there were of course those who looked at me and said “Oh, nice, beautiful”, with ladies wanting to touch my skin and/or play with my hair.. and simply followed that desire without seeking my permission .. *sighs* Then again, this account would be flawed if it did not make mention of those individuals who looked at me (probably) thinking i was an African beauty.. a princess.. stunning.. simply amazing 🙂 Yup, there were of course some very positive “comments” on the African woman’s presence in Shanghai, China, Asia… Don’t know whether they really thought I was “special” or whether they were trying to make ME feel/think I was special.. opposed to me thinking___ something else, I suppose.. (for reasons only known to/ understood by them..)
In any case, summing it all up: I”m used to people looking and wondering “where I come from” or people wanting to “touch my skin and/or play with my hair”.. I’m even used to people telling their friends “See!” and pointing at me.. probably even taking pictures.. I don’t know, I don’t really mind.. but all this happening in less than 6 hours.. and literally every other min.. that was/is quite unusual.
I guess it really was/is because there aren’t many “Africans” in Shanghai; I’ve seen about 9 so far, most of which were tourists (with a Chinese spouse, or so it seemed) or high-earning expatriates (exclusively hanging out with Europeans). But to sum it up, it really seems like I’m giving Shanghai more than I initially thought I would/ could possibly give them, namely: a premium tourist-attraction: myself!