It’s been a while since I last posted and for a while I thought I had nothing to report. My school commute has become routine, I’ve more or less figured out how to feed myself and my classes are far from demanding.
I have been out on the town a few nights and can say that I set myself up for disappointment. My first night out started at a CEIBS party. The party was Spanish themed and included bingo, hangover flavored sangria and a completely empty dance floor. It was nice to see some of the full-time students outside of class but the party was not riveting.
Among my fellow exchange students were a few with plans to go to a club called Mint. Shortly thereafter, I was taking a cab home at 5am after having bottle service at one of Shanghai’s hottest clubs. Mint included an amazing view, a massive shark tank and many, many drinks. It turned out to a great venue for getting to know some of the guys in my program but the cab ride home reminded me of being four-years old.
Being named Ira and unable to say the letter “r” makes introductions tough. In my mind, I would say my name correctly, the respondent would butcher it, I would spell it for them, they would butcher the spelling and I would be unable to fix the situation.
Giving directions at 5am in Shanghai after bottle service feels like being a four year-old who can’t say the only consonant in his name. I say Zhenping Lu, you take me to Yenping Lu. I write Zhenping Lu on a piece of paper, you respond in exasperated mandarin. Eventually I drew the logo for the Shanghai Metro and the corresponding train lines that stop at the Zhenping Lu station and I was saved. Thankfully, taxi prices in Shanghai aren’t too expensive and the whole charade only cost about $10.
Two subsequent nights out have allowed me to make a few broad generalizations. 1) I love that smoking is banned in US bars
2) A ton of people in Shanghai smoke… a lot
3) Shanghai is full of prostitutes
4) Shark tanks connote status in clubs
5) Local liquor tastes like gasoline
6) Local people can’t handle their local liquor
The other night I saw at least four young women carried from a club virtually unconscious. I saw several men attempt to stand up from booths and fall flat on their faces. After talking to my roommate Louise, I learned that as we approach Chinese New Year, drinking will increase while alcohol tolerance stays the same. I was told to expect red faces, loud voices and possibly vomiting on the metro. I’ll report how it actually turns out.
On another note, I completed one week of intensive mandarin lessons and can now tell taxi drivers where I need to go. I can order food and drink and even ask for no MSG. Apparently, MSG is applied very generously to all street food, including the tasty lamb wraps upon which I subsisted for weeks. I’ll ask for no wenjing from now on.
Finally, a Falcons fan, a Niners fan and a Zambian prostitute walk into a bar at 4am. I guess that’s not accurate. I woke up at 3am this morning so I could make it to the expat bar The Big Bamboo before kickoff. I got a small two-top to myself and sat next to a larger table of Falcons fans. Within ten minutes, a Zambian prostitute took the other seat at my table. It didn’t take long for her three friends to join, cover my table (I was facing away form the table, toward the largest television) with jackets and purses. Long morning short, the Zambians left at halftime, the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl and I’m exhausted.