08/24/13. Shanghai Do you know how to draw? Scratch that. Do you know how to identify drawings? Hold onto that; you will need it.
Okay, your apartment has been cleaned now. Say “Xie xie” and get ready to go grocery shopping or food hunting (whichever comes first). Wait! Why are the women still here? Ok quick! Ask them for directions to the nearest grocery store. Pull up that Chinese app. What? They can read it but they don’t know the directions? Hold on, they want your number. No, wait! Your phone is ringing. It’s the lady who picked you up from the airport; you need to pay the cleaners. RMB 50? Got it! You should have known that nothing goes for free but that’s not a problem. Say “Xie xie” again.
Quick! Rush outside and find food somewhere, anywhere! There are a good number of restaurants lined up right outside your apartment complex. You haven’t eaten since you landed at 1:30pm yesterday and it’s about 11am now. Wow! It’s true that females hide under umbrellas here. Thankfully, they hate the sun like you do, unlike Americans who can sleep in the blazing sun. Focus! You need food. They are staring at you now. Keep walking and flash a smile. Nod too if they say anything in Mandarin. Can you spot tables and chairs? No! Don’t go into that one. You can’t walk into the first restaurant you see. One, two, three…go to this one. “Is that beef?” Don’t ask questions, just point. Meat and fish? How come that guy is eating rice? Look over. There’s a rice server. Pick a drink and pay. First meal cost 25 RMB.
No cutlery? Don’t miss 7/11 already. You should have travelled with a pack of disposable cutlery and tucked it away in your bag. Enough of the wishful thinking already; just look around and find the chopsticks. No luck? Actually, you’re just in luck because that woman just spotted your confused look. “Xie xie”. Now, open it and gnaw at that food as fast as you can. You don’t really know how to use chopsticks but “you gon learn today!” You’re done? Now eat the fish even though it’s cold. Drop the chopsticks already, your fingers will do. Keep eating and licking your fingers regardless of the stares you are racking up as the restaurant is flooding with your new countrymen. It’s a good thing you came in 10minutes before 11:56pm. You’re done eating now. Leave! Hold on, there’s still fish that needs to be finished. Look up. Who are these on your table - an old couple having lunch with you? It appears that it doesn’t matter who you are or whether they know you. They will join you at lunch and chew with their mouth open. It’s fine. You are in their country now so you have to deal with it. Go back home if you can’t.
To be continued…