Monday, August 27, 2012

Shanghai: Prelude to a Museum

You know how dogs will saunter in, scout out an area for a little bit and then circle once, twice, three times before plunking themselves onto a rest spot? I feel like that. Except it seems I'm stuck in the circling part. It would appear I have a nice homey corner and it promises to be comfy; and yet, some part of me can't commit. I'm cranky. In between projects. Restless, with the "What next?" sense feeling more like a weight than a latent opportunity. Eh, give it a few.

Maybe this evening calls for a little time spent outside of the Shanghai Museum. You slept in a bit and then skyped with a few late bird/insomniac relatives. Bought some dubious prepack "cookies" from the corner convenience store -- they have cream centers, black sesame seeds on their surface and "GRAINS" stamped on each side. As suspected, the "cookies" are a confused, unsatisfying hybrid, though clearly a less frightening option than the miscellaneous meat morsels bobbing in an orangey bath underneath heat lamps. The not-cookies create a middling breakfast layer, along with a super-sweet Nescafe "coffee drink." Ready to go? Ready. Take line 4 to Century Ave where you switch lines, along with a veritable stadium of people, all following huge color coordinated floor arrows (Line 9 is Powder Blue, Line 6 is Red, Line 4 is Purple). But you want to go to People's Square, so you follow leaf green arrows to Line 2. The People's Square stop funnels you into the midst of a tacky tacky indoor mall which feels like it extends for miles. Leather and pleather and rhinestone trinkets; shop names like "Thousand Colors," side avenues of salons and scores of shop clerks, leaning on counters, slumping in chairs, as utterly bored as they'd be anywhere else in the world.

Finally, you decide on one of the thirteen or so exits. As you climb up the stairs, the humidity blankets you. But, that's okay! you are on an adventure!

On right, the Park Hotel, built in 1934 by Laszlo Hudec, based on the American Radiator Building

It was around here that a young couple asked me to take their picture. They seemed super excited and talkative, from a small town close to Mongolia, on their own big adventure. They wanted to practice their English. You American? Where are you from? Do you know Double Yew Double Yew Double Yew E?...The Rock! I *love* the Rock! It's fun and funny and we pass a few minutes. I begin to kind of inch along. Do you like tea? the young woman asks. Or do you like the Starbucks? Ohh, I say, I like Starbucks, but also tea. They are going to a tea ceremony, very special, very traditional only once a year. I should come with them. Ohh, thanks, I say. I think I'm just going to go on, but thanks.
"Oh, you should come with us!" urges the woman. "More is happier, more is better. And I can practice my English." Only a few blocks away. Oh, um, no. Am I missing a cool, one-of-a-kind experience out of mistrust and timidity? Or have I nearly been sucked in by WWWE tea hooligans? I shake my head a few more times, Bye, bye. I have a museum to go to. It becomes a bit more suspect after another group of young people (three this time) ask me to take their picture in the park. We also fall into an easy conversation, one also works in Pudong...and they also urge me to go to the tea ceremony a few blocks away, "The museum will be too busy now, you should come to this first!" Nooooo, thank you, no...Sweet, internalized Mom voice, "Ohhhh, they were so nice! For heaven's sake, they just wanted you to drink tea and learn food customs!" Sweet Mom segues into Suspicious Mom "...or maybe they wanted to rob you. I don't know. That IS AWFULLY friendly..."

Watching the ride, listening to screams, before the second picture posers approached.
Bamboo step exit from park. Back to commerce and heavy traffic

The appropriately futuristic Urban Planning Exhibition Center
No chance to go in, but I have heard great things.

Not the chocolate! yes, the chocolate.

Adidas Advertising, Dragon Style

The second park had speaker stones, from which marching band type music emanated, full of pomp and circumstance.
 I sat on a bench for a few, watched people walk by with their goldfish. An Asian man with a hefty build called out "Hahhhh-lllllloooooo!!!"

I laughed and called back "Helllllooooo! How are you?"

 At which point he burst out laughing and continued on.

First view of the Shanghai Museum, in the shape of a Ding, ancient food vessel. Bonus tucked-up shirt!

what's better than sitting by a museum fountain, listening to patriotic music?

Watching an elderly man fly his kite in the midst of it.

There was a 45 min. line to get through museum security.

Luckily I had some cool architecture to gaze at, while shuffling along. I dawdled so much before going inside the first visit, that I only had time for the ceramics gallery before closing time. Vowed to return the following weekend...More to come.