Jandira and I had agreed to meet again on Monday morning, so I took the subway out to the French Concession. For the second time on this trip, the Shanghai Subway threw me for a loop. They translate almost everything on their signs but, just for fun, leave out the really really important information. “Line 10 hasn’t been constructed yet”, for instance, or “Exits 6-8 can only be accessed from Line 7, not Line 1”. While I can read Chinese, I don’t when there’s English available . . . Thus, we had a hard time meeting up but eventually managed it.
Our destination was the Propaganda Poster Museum, which ended up being kind of a walk. It was a beautiful day in Shanghai, though, and we just kept shedding layers as we strolled along. The French Concession is a nice area, too, although probably even more beautiful in spring or true fall. The museum was quite hard to find, though, and my Lonely Planet Guide was almost no help at all. When I’m looking for a museum, I don’t expect to enter an apartment complex, walk to one of the interior buildings, and take an elevator to the basement. It reminded me of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “It was on display on the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.” (If you don’t get the reference, please go immediately to your local bookstore or library and read at least the first few chapters of the book. You’ll thank me.)
The museum was pretty cool, though. I was glad they had English translations because my Chinese actually wasn’t much use. In addition to the traditional characters, I’m not really up on my socialist thought vocabulary – we haven’t covered “proletariat”, “revolutionary”, or “imperialism” yet in class.
This was my favorite one: “More pigs for more fertilizer for higher grain production”.
We had lunch in a Western cafe and then – via two subway lines and a taxi – went to the airport. The flight back was fine, and then I was home in Xiamen. I didn’t have a window seat, but this seems like a good time to post a picture of Xiamen from the air. It was taken by a friend of my mother, a pilot, as he flow over a few months ago. Isn’t my island pretty?
The last time I had flown into that airport, I took a taxi to campus because I was jetlagged and in an unfamiliar place. This time, neither being true, I decided to try taking the bus home. I looked at the routes, found one that would take me as far as ZhongShan Lu, and boarded the bus with a pleased smile on my face . . . Then, over a half hour later, when we arrived at SM (which is then an hour from campus), I gave up on the bus. For a small island, that airport sure is far away!
I read an article recently discussing alcohol use among foreigners in China, and it really resonated with me after such a long day of public transportation and the associated 麻烦: “there’s just something about this country that makes it all a bit easier to handle with your buzz on.”
But, I made it home and was even in time to have dinner with a friend. Back in my room, I had a lot to catch up on. The big international news is the conference on climate change in Copenhagen, and my Google Reader page was full of articles and blog posts. I have a couple of Udall friends attending the conference (you can read their blogs here and here if you’re interested), but there was also news from the Vatican (Pope Calls for Concrete Action on Climate) and even the Onion (EPA Warns of Rise in Global Heartwarming).
As I unpacked and did other things around the room, I listened to Christmas music. It’s kind of cool not having Christmas music forced upon you every time you venture out or accidentally turn on a 24/7 all-Christmas-all-the-time radio station. I get to choose when I listen (not until Advent started, and only when I’m happy and calm) and what I listen to (no bad remakes of classics with too many notes crammed in). Also, while I miss home with its cold and snow – surefire signs of Christmas’ approach – I have a new understanding for a lot of songs that had been meaningless to me before: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, and even “Having a Tropical Christmas”.