China Diary:
Plenty to Eat


[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]


Oct. 12: Government Feedback – Frank, the USIS officer in Beijing, comes to Shanghai for a few days to check on things. Bill from USIA is with him. They look at my apartment, then we go to Kathleen’s where we chat about our experiences for a while. They take us to lunch, and we get caught up on some D.C. politics. After we look at the American Studies Center funded by U.S. taxpayers. While there I meet Rui, the Deputy Director of the Department of American Studies, a local think tank affiliated with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. Touring the Center I learn of some controversy over its funding. A few hours later, at the basketball courts I sustain my first serious injury when I jam my left pinky and it swells as large as I’ve ever seen it and turns black and blue.

Oct. 13: Lunch with the Star Tekkies – The manager of the Network Engineering Section and one of his "Masters" were extremely helpful in helping me set up my computer, and twice again when it crashed. To reciprocate, I take them to lunch at the Red Wall. It’s quite a banquet (including jellyfish for appetizer), and for us three the tab comes to $14. The conversation ranges from planned computer upgrades to places I should try to visit.

Oct. 14: Old Town and Old Players – The rain has me under the weather some, but I manage to crawl to class. In the afternoon, I go to Jiao Tong University to meet the Management Department chair and his assistant. There are forty-seven colleges and universities in Shanghai, and this is considered one of the "Big Three" along with Fudan and Tong Ji University. We talk about collaborating on research and other projects and I agree to give a couple of lectures there next week as a professional courtesy. I take a taxi to Old Town, once a haven for thieves, beggars, and prostitutes. I wander its narrow alleys until I am thoroughly lost and it begins to get dark. I pull out my map and ask some directions, and finally find my way to Yu Yuan (Scholar’s Garden) where I was a few days ago. There, I purchase a gift for my son Marc’s upcoming birthday. But former NBA All-Stars ("XNBA") are in town to play the China National Team and there is a reception at 6:00, so I make my way down the Bund at night and to the Shanghai American Club and where I pay $20 to mingle and mug with the dozen players and several coaches and organizers, camera in hand. All are standing and mingling with the American expatriates, but Kareem is sitting in the corner chatting. I make my way over and shake his hand. He lived up to his reputation in more ways than one, but the Big O (who is the coach) and Adrian are very down to earth and seemed to genuinely enjoy working the crowds. An hour later, I leave and in the street bump into some women from Yunnan Province dressed in colorful ethnic costumes, selling handmade items. I purchase one for my son, then take the bus home where I grab a Big Mac and fries for dinner.

Oct. 15: Theory vs. Practice – There is a lecture at the Nordic Center by a Norwegian professor on China’s transition to a democracy. He presents various schools of thought including the importance of economic growth and development. But it’s all academic. A couple of hours later, Fenwick and his friend come to take me out to dinner. Fenwick is one of my MA students who is conducting research on family-run businesses. During the cultural revolution, his father, who now teaches mathematics at Fudan University, was sent to work on a farm but was able to continue his academic career which included a visit to Princeton. Fenwick is applying to U.S. Ph.D. programs. His friend Zhen, who is studying electronic engineering, is from Wenzhou, which is south of Shanghai and known for its family-run businesses ("If you want to see capitalism go to Wenzhou," the saying goes). His father is pretty successful, and we talk about what it is like doing business in that city. Tonight, dinner includes duck tongue and pork liver and belly. He picks up the tab, and as we leave, he invites me to visit some weekend and I agree so I can see what entrepreneurs are really like in China.

Oct. 16: More Free Meals – I begin the day by biking over to the post office to mail Marc’s birthday presents and pick up a box of gifts I sent out last July. At 11, I meet Lily (the JV GM I hope to write a case on) and her assistant for a lengthy lunch meeting. Later in the afternoon, I go to Jade’s office to arrange for a trip in a couple of weeks. Just after five I take a cab to the other side of town to meet the representative of an international business program. We go to dinner, and I lose count of the number of dishes but nothing exotic this time. We discuss the possibility of my adjuncting; sounds interesting, so we will pursue the possibility.

Oct. 17: Shanghai Tourism Festival – The city is promoting itself this weekend with parades and fireworks. I go to Fuxing Park to see one of the highlights, 999 couples (the number means endurance in Chinese) getting married. I then take the subway and mini-cab (motorized rickshaw) to the Peace Hotel, returning to the garden roof where I was a few weeks ago in the rain. This time the view is clearer, and I look across the river to the shining "Little Empire State Building," the tallest building in Asia. On the roof below me is a preparation for the celebrations. I chat with someone who is a retired physicist from the University of Chicago as well as a retired federal judge from Chicago. He has been in China for ten years and shows me some of the rooftop views.

Oct. 18: Pot Luck – I’ve been fighting a cold all week (as well as a possibly-broken pinky). I sleep a bit this afternoon then take a hot bath. By dinner time I am pretty hungry and try a local hot pot buffet. I recognize some things (like the frog legs), but mostly it’s a matter of luck. Pick what you want and cook it yourself, unlimited helpings. Some items you throw into the boiling water, others you throw on the grill surrounding the pot, and others you eat as is (either raw or already-cooked), but I’m never sure if I get it right. Only tomorrow will tell. The total comes to around five bucks, including a large beer, various fruits, and even ice cream (which I skip). Stuffed, I head home to prepare this week’s classes.


[Leaving Home] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Settling in Shanghai] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Getting to Work] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Becoming Routine] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Western Contacts] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) ["National Day" Trip] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Meeting Folks] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Plenty to Eat] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Downtown] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [South by Southwest] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Socializing] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Dance Fever] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Exchanges] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Business Week] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [North by Northeast] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Computer Crash] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [The Good and the Bad] arrow.jpg (877 bytes) [Wrapping Up]

Rainbow

Copyright 1998 Paul Miesing. All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission unless in the People’s Republic of China which does not enforce intellectual property rights. Revised on January 17, 2001.