Feeling out of place in Shanghai

I’m still trying to figure out if this whole revamped blog name thing is working. I mean, I’m not even sure if people are able to see these posts again, or if I’m back to typing into the void (which is rather nice, because I don’t need to worry about saying anything too offensive). This also helps, because in my sleep-deprived state (when I don’t get enough sleep, I sort of just.. shut down) I published this post without having edited it.

I went through a phase of not quite feeling great about Shanghai these past few weeks (that’s putting it mildly), partially from the sheer shock of returning after two weeks of being home, partially from the infuriating nature of the company I work for, and partially from the 20º degree shift in temperature that sort of sprung up while I was gone (oh, you mean your body wasn’t ready to sweat continuously for the next four months? That’s too bad!) But I think I’m finally starting to feel okay about settling into my life here and I’m finally learning (re-learning?) to love the city.

And I’m also leaving again, for a week in two days, to go to Japan.

Some things that have been making my happy since my return:

  • I realized that I’m the kind of person that will say yes to an hour on the tennis court with just two hours notice, after not having so much as held a racquet for roughly five years (I don’t know what I was expecting). Playing tennis on a rooftop court somehow makes you feel like you’re better at it than you actually are, but it also makes it harder to spot the tennis-court-colored lizards littering the field.
  • I’m not as bad at tennis as I had thought I was. 90% of the time my racquet was able to make solid contact with the ball.
  • That being said, I’m still pretty bad at tennis. Largely, because in 95% of those cases, the ball rarely went where it was meant to go (my aim could use some light improvement)
  • I’ve started waving “hi”, and therefore have become friends with the cigarette-shop-man in the lobby of my Shanghainese apartment building (yes, cigarette stands are still a thing in China and they are always filled with schoolchildren buying ice cream and water, and hopefully not cigarettes).
  • Used book/artisanal bakery/local clothes fairs exist in Shanghai and I bought a romper from a local German designer Frau Ana at one of them last weekend
  • That being said, wearing a romper feels like wearing an adult diaper, mostly from the theatrics involved while going to the bathroom (avoid squat toilets at all costs!!).
  • There are hordes of women at my gym who walk backwards on the treadmills. And it turns out they’re not just directionally challenged. According to Eastern Medicine, walking backwards burns more calories than walking forwards. I say, I’d rather just go running.
  • I started using Facebook after three years of radio silence. It took a lot of guts to start using Instagram or Twitter again (not sure quite sure why), and I think going back on Facebook means being okay with telling the outside world I’m alive and across the world.
  • I have rarely been so cognizant of my own mortality than while driving around Shanghai. D got me a razor scooter last weekend and because the scooter is motorized, I’ve been using it to commute to work each morning. My commute now evolves an elaborate dance of honking my horn (I don’t know why I even bother), weaving through cars pedestrians, scooters, and ayis (I can handle all of the above except for the ayis, they’re ruthless), as well as clutching on for dear life, because it’s China and we don’t wear helmets, knee guards, or other protection. I’m riding a stand-up death machine for roughly 25 minutes each morning.

Welcome back to Shanghai.



0 thoughts on “Feeling out of place in Shanghai”

  • Thank you for writing about the running backwards thing…my dear mother-in-law is doing the very same thing and it is rather emberrasing to walk with her around in Germany like that :p
    At least now I know why she is doing it. Probably some smart ass said so some years ago and now everyone believes it. I always wonder why they are not able to switch on their brains once in a while..

    • Oh god, riding a motorized scooter around Shanghai has seriously made me question my sanity. The amount of people completely refusing to react to a moving vehicle is startling. I would think that walking backwards would be more dangerous, because even on the treadmill, the women are hanging on for their lives.

      • When it comes to traffic Chinese are pretty amazing. Sometimes it seems they just dont give a damn about any rules and laws for driving around or perhaps they actually do not give a damn which is even more scary.

    • ahh, sorry I totally didn’t reply to this until i got back! It was a huge mess, but when the squatters at work are cleaner than the other toilets, it’s a problem -_-

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