Published: February 6th 2010February 6th 2010
Corner near my hostel...old Shanghai feel, nice
"It almost feels like my previous stint in China is flowing seamlessly into this one, but it's as though I have suddenly transformed into a being with twice the capacity for cultural acceptance, twice the capacity for communication, and who has suddenly rather fresh eyes to see a place that, I now realize, I had gotten so used to that it made me blind to it."
So I articulated to my great, new friend Barbara, shortly after arriving in Shanghai.
I was on a path, winding through China, and when I stepped onto that plane, back in 2008, I was teleported, it seems, onto another path far away. And in America I learned so many important things, and began to carve a path through that place...but as I stepped onto the plane to return to Shanghai just 3 weeks ago, it's as though I stepped through a portal and returned to the same step that I had last taken in China 2 years ago. I've returned to the same path, as though I've never left...but I did leave, and, though it seems the place has hardly changed, I have changed, and so my relationships here will.
My Egg place
Folks here were great, very kind, one breakfast consisted in a casual eating and conversation with an exceptionally conversant and joyful chubby little 8 year old Chinese boy. We ate in silence, then chatted, then ate, like old friends or brothers. So my connections with Chinese people have been.
out of the taxi in the Hongkou area of Shanghai, and looked at a scene that did not remind me of the bustling, post-modern Shanghai that I remembered, but one that is more akin to that small, poor, and ancient city of Shangqiu, where I had lived three years before. I liked that.
I walked around that first night, down a street that was filled with Chinese people and street food, just marveling. I had an American mind now, I had lived deeply in the ways of Chicago and the hearts of American written roles for plays and films, and I saw China with fresh eyes. I looked at the architecture and felt the many people, and began to fathom the vast depths that connect this ever-changing situation that is today's China with a long, long past, the undercurrents of which, are yet at times just below the surface. The some 200 years of Chicago history that I had, of late, gazed into, seemed now so marginal. My priority: keep my eyes fresh.
As I headed through Shanghai those first 8 days, I was amazed at how amplified my Chinese ability was. Even from that first taxi ride
An old Shanghai Street
Very Chinese, and very different from other parts of Shanghai..see other photos. This place has the character and feel of a Chinese street market and is very clean, an important point.
from the airport I was conversationally fluent in a way that I have never experienced before, and this inspite of the fact that the driver spoke with a rather thick Shanghai accent. Living in Chicago, I had never broken my connection with Chinese people and culture, and so, it seems, my mind became more and more familiarized with the style and flow of the language, eventhough my vocab didn't really improve.
The most amazing thing that I experience when I first enter a new land, is the sensation of my body-mind's relationship to the collective mind of that particular place. The presence of millions of Chinese people in Shanghai, all thinking and speaking in Chinese, activated the pathways already troved into my brain, those pathways like chains, the links of which are Chinese characters. Very soon, eventhough I knew that the Championship games were approaching, I could care less about American football. We pass into collective mind bodies, like moving from one body of water to another, each with their own unique, shared forms and colors...it is so amazing to watch my mind react to and change the new collective mind I enter; to see certain thoughts and symbols
Apples are about 20 cents a pop, breakfast is 1 or 2 bucks, and I bought the entire Avatar:last airbender series, which would go for about 200 dollars in the US, for a whopping, $1.50. Awesome! Then I found out that inspite of my computer's old age, it can still play DVDs! Excellent! Best score yet by far.
empowered and others loose momentum; to observe the encroachment of new currents that prevail in that place, but which I will not to prevail in my mind; to see my previously developing Spanish ability fall through the floor...but if you do not enter collective human environments that are VERY distinct from the one you are used to (or if you just take your environment with you) you will not notice this phenomenon..like living in a bubble without knowing there are others, and you do not even realize that you live in a bubble of sorts. And so can not perceive that bubble that encapsulates them all.
I had my first audition for an amazing play, amazing artistic opportunity...soon I'll know if I get called back. Other than that I have explored teaching opportunities, and will teach English one on one through two schools that I found. I look forward to continuing the development of my curriculum. One of those schools is helping me to get a work Visa, necessary since authorities are more serious about illegal foreigners now that the International EXPO is starting soon. I've decided I will stay in Shanghai, perhaps for 8 months...exploring this part of
In spite of the presence of old Shanghai, there is a healthy mixture of new condos and abodes...previously the sights of old houses, since demolished to make way for larger homes, more suitable for Chinese families, and the tall buildings more suitably using space in this city of many millions.
China, it's gorgeous mountains that hover near....it's neighboring, mystical Buddhist mountain, refuge of GuanYin they say. And am excited to explore job opps in Shanghai. There are a few friends here, but I'm sure I'll make more quickly. In general, I have found that I get on much more easily with Chinese people than Americans. More natural and relaxed communicators, better listeners in general, not as bound by Cartesian Dualistic thinking, and not so damn competitive and selfish all the time. OOOOO!!!! That's gotta hurt, poor western pride.
I thought the air a bit shitty, a 4 next to Chicago's 6, as far as cities go on a scale from 1-10. But after returning to Shangqiu, my former Chinese abode, I realized that my lungs must still be cleansing themselves from living in that coal cloud for 1 year. It is easily a 1...absolutely dreadful air. Though nature is enslaved by the will of men who heed not the edicts to retain balance, eventhough they arise from their own cultural tradition, I will have to bear with it, and be grateful for the parks that Shanghai possesses, and go often to the refuges that lie about it.
Different Part of Town
Enter Shopping realm. OK boys and girls, get your most expensive and sought after western, designer clothing. Spend lavishly and feel like a superior and rich foreigner!
Is there a law protecting the murder of the soul?
I am traveling for Spring Festival, the most important Chinese festival, and have returned to the interior province of Henan, where previously I lived. I will return to Shanghai in about 10 days, traveling with another 100 million Chinese commuters...the world's greatest annual migration...Chinese travelers during Chinese New Year...millions of migrant workers scurring about like honey bees that return to their hives once a year with all the pollen they have collected. When I return, I will begin working and find my apartment....it will unfold as it will.
So begins the next chapter of this journey through life on planet earth. Be blessed and enjoy your own journeys friends!
There are more photos below