shanghai is number 1 minus the spitting

Wow. Shanghai is an amazing city. Haven’t been able to put my finger on why just yet, but there is something about it that I really love. The past few days that I have been here have been overwhelming to say the least. I still haven’t gotten over the jet lag… it is 6:45 in the morning and I have been up for about an hour now. I am a walking zombie, not the b-rated horror type. Just a regular zombie minus the toilet paper.

Surprisingly enough, being in China makes the world seem smaller than I could have imagined. Within the first five days of being here, I had a meeting in the French Concession and afterwards ran into a guy from San Fran that I met on the flight over. His name is Joseph, he is 22 and he is a devout Jehova’s witness, I’m talking door to door preacher …(not so allowed in China), but he learned some Mandarin back home so that he could facilitate his teaching. My point is…there are 18million people in this city and I managed to run into 1 on the street. To all those mathematicians out there…I don’t need to say it…but to those who are not…those are some slim odds. And if we are still on the subject of coincidences, Talia and I had a party on Friday night and one of the guys that showed up was the guy that Jenny (my cousin) met when she was here and was supposed to get me in touch with. She didn’t but… je me suis débrouillé tout seule.

Last night Talia and I were hungry (no surprise). We decided to go out and explore and try and find some food. So we set out walking, it was about 7pm, and we just walked and walked forever soon to realize that this city keeps going on forever. It is a giant china town, that no matter what corner you turn, it never EVER ends. I am very happy that Talia, likes to wander, look at stuff, take a long time browsing through everything and is probably tied with me in terms of indecisiveness. She is not quite a Gemini, but her birthday is close. Nonetheless, you can imagine what it is like with the two of us walking around with visual stimuli overload. I bought some spicy raisins from a weird store and then we saw and stopped at a little store with steam coming out of it to grab dinner. The two of us stood there, enamored/confused/trying to figure out what was going on. There was a woman with a steaming cauldron, an area loaded with all types of meets(or something), tofu, seaweed, veggies, noodles…everything from stomach lining to foodSURPRISE!… We stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out the system/commit…but before we could decide, a man put a basket in each of our hands, and we started to pick out the things we wanted in our concoction. After we were done, we gave the stuff to the cauldron woman, she cooked it in a giant pot with everyone else’s food. We paid 5.50 RMB for dinner, which is about 75cents. It was really really delicious…best chicken broth I have ever had…super spicey…even though I would probably go without the some of the choices next time…it was a really good first encounter. For those that know me, I am a very adventurous eater, will try everything once, and I figure, if everyone else is eating it, I can eat it too!
Then after we got all of these crazy fruits from a stand. A guy tried to rip us off for some corn, and we of course…(you cannot leave home without doing this)…picked up some 5RMB dvds on the street.

Yesterday I had my first day of teaching. I teach Sundays at 9am at a place called New Oriental. I showed up half an hour early…nervous as anything, but when I got there, I was helped out by some really nice and friendly people that work at the school. They helped set me up in my classroom…then chatted with me about Yao Ming and the Rockets…stevie franchise(my old school fave.) and TMAc who every one here loves. All of a sudden I realized it was 915 and no students were there…I asked where everyone was, and then they realized I was in the wrong classroom. They helped me grab all my stuff and run up to the right one where all my students were patiently waiting my arrival. I have 11 people in my class, all really nice from ages of 20-30. My nervousness for some reason went right away and I got straight into teaching. They don’t speak English as well as I thought, but after I figured out the level, things became a lot smoother and their jaws came off the floor. After two hours it was time for lunch break…they all rushed over to me to have me go out for lunch with them. I went with half the class. They took me to some Chinese fast food restaurant where the menu was all in Chinese so I just told them to order me anything. This was bad because they were so nice and wanted to make sure it was something that I liked. By the end I had no idea what I was getting, but I ended up with some dumplings and a bowl of soup (tasted like hot soy milk…but was really good)…supposedly popular breakfast food and one of the girls said…”very good for women”…then the boy laughed. The whole thing was hilarious. By the end of the day I was completely exhausted. Then had to hop into a cab home for a 2 hour Chinese class.

I started taking intense Chinese lessons with a tutor…here name is Fiona and she is hilarious. She is also Alissa, her boyfriend Dave and Michael (the doctor’s son)’s teacher. That is how I met her and she now comes to our place. Every lesson makes my head feel like it is going to explode, but it is really fun in some screwed up sadistic way. I am working really hard trying to learn this language, it is more difficult than I could have possibly imagined.

Other than that…things are very overwhelming, but I am really enjoying it/working really hard. Just being here is hard work in many ways. Sorry if I have been out of touch, I am trying to get the swing of things and I will be better once settled.

This is my phone number, you can call me anytime, day or night…would love to hear any voices.
+ 86 13636382364
Notice the last number is 4…in Chinese that is pronounced si (kind of like çe in French). In any case, it is also the word for death. 4 is the number u are not supposed to have at the end of your cellphone number. Hehe. Ooops. But maybe that is why it was so inexpensive. I am very proud though because I got it all by myself!

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