Friday, May 21, 2010

Sheepless in Shanghai.

Back.Finally.I arrived in Shanghai at the end of February.I'd returned home to New Zealand after leaving Japan in late August 2009.After a fruitless search for full-time employment I accepted a position in Shanghai,China.

I'm still finding my feet culturally and workwise.The energy of 22 odd million locals is sometimes overpowering compared to the sombre post Toyota gloom I left in Nagoya,Japan.Geographically I live in an area of Shanghai called Pudong.Its an interesting area undergoing rapid expansion.Theres an uneasy mixture of old style residential gated compounds cheek by jowl with modern skyscrapers.The photo above comes from a local park in central Pudong.The flying saucer sculptures echo the architecture of nearby high rise buildings.

The park has a number of features including a lake that abounds in carp and huge expanses of grass though there are signs that prohibit you from sitting on the verdant green stuff.Instead you have the option of sitting on pile-inducing granite stone like benches dotted around the park.As it seems to be the only green space with trees for miles there are always wedding couples getting their photos taken there.Park staff obligingly turn on the fountain in the centre of the lake so that the happy couples can be snapped with water spouts and sprays gushing in the background.

The wedding cars are always festooned with flowers and toys such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse.The sight of this car brandishing a Hello Kitty wedding decoration produced a wry smile.I could have been back in Japan.

The last three months here in Shanghai have been frantic and at times difficult.Trying to find an apartment knowing there is a deadline to meet with immigration and visa papers to be completed,at the same time still learning a new job and trying to get to grips with a foreign culture meant there has been little time to explore Shanghai.As I recall it was the same in Nagoya.It took time for things to shakedown and establish a routine.A balance between work and recreation.Now that Ive finally got an internet connection and getting to grips with my job I will be able to see something of this city and blog about it.Hopefully.

The stretched limo you see above was ferrying a large wedding party to the park for their wedding photos.As it was rather warm and humid today the car was having a hard time of it.Although you cant see in either photo there was a cloud of steam coming from the engine.If you look carefully you may note the puddle of water in the first photo around the feet of the man wearing a black tshirt and gingerly using a cloth to look at the radiator cap.Seeing that things were getting heated in more ways than one I beat a hasty retreat.Hopefully the car and its occupants had a safe journey without incident.


Kevin said...

Hey, congrats on the new digs! I've been contemplating doing china as my next assignment. Let me know how the language thing goes. The grammar is supposed to be pretty easy, but the tonal pronunciations are supposed to be a pain to master.

Cheers from nagoya.


Kwok said...

welcome back, the internet has missed you! insightful post, as usual. will be interesting to hear the differences between shanghai and nagoya.

huey said...

Hi Kevin,thanks for leaving your comments.
I'd just say to think carefully given the difference in the values of the currencies.Im on about half of what i was in Japan and given the yuans rate against the nz dollar Im hardly going to make a fortune to send home but I knew that before I arrived and the experience was more important than the money sent home.

If you were thinking of coming to Shanghai Id wait till after the Expo ends in 6 months.Accomodation is ridiculously priced for renting at the moment and prices to purchase apartments went up 100 percent last year and continue to rise..

As for the language the grammar seems fairly straight forward(10 years in Japan and I could barely order a beer) but I agree the tonal patterns take some practice.Plus there are so many dialects being spoken here as well as Shanghailese and Mandarin and Cantonese its a real hotchpotch.

huey said...

Hi Kwok,
Cheers for the kind comments.Shanghai and Nagoya what can I say..'You're not in Kansas anymore Toto.'
Theres a palpable grittiness to the place and I dont just mean the air quality or what comes out of the water taps.Im still trying to adjust to the way things are done and how people negotiate and navigate through the daily obstacles life throws at them.
Interesting experiences and times ahead.