China

I haven’t been on my blog for a week now. I don’t post as frequently as I used to. And its not because I’m a bit disappointed with the lack of traffic on my blog. Mostly, it has been very hard trying to find time between classes and corresponding work, to think about something to write and put words around it. I did want to write about my trip to World Expo, but I’ll wait till I finish the journal for International Management class, before I copy it over to the blog :-).

I could have written about China. However, there’s a saying in China, “If you spend a week in China, you write a book about China. If you spend a month, you write a book. And if you spend a year in China, you say nothing.” So apt to my situation. In many ways similar to the country of my birth: India. There’s so much to write and say about China that I don’t even know where to begin. I spent 4 weeks in Beijing and have been in Shanghai for about 2 weeks, and the contrast is start. Heck, the contrast in Beijing was stark. Below are a couple of pictures taken by a colleague of mine from his hotel room in Beijing.

On a smoggy day-

On a clear day

Yeah, I was flabbergasted too. Latter picture was a rare sight during my time in Beijing. Not only that, the number of English speaking people was a low number. Even at the hotel I was staying, which by the way was built for foreign tourists during the Beijing Olympics. Understandly, the city is more politically inclined with it being the cultural and the political center. I did have a hard time with language, but I got around with the help of a few Mandarin translations from the hotel. The people were generally polite, talkative, even though I had no clue what was being spoken. I suppose animative is better description. I rarely had any taxi drivers say no to my fare.

Shanghai, figuratively, is a world apart. While flying into La Guardia, I’ve flown over Manhattan, and the skyline is pretty impressive. Shanghai skyline was even better. Not for the sheer size, but the incredible architecture. The “bottle-opener” building or Shanghai World Financial center is awesome, when looking over the top of it. Language in Shanghai, I hear, is quite different too. Since, I don’t speak Mandarin, I have no reason to doubt the assertion. The people, however, are less friendly than Beijing. Try standing in the middle of Hongqiao airport, or even in the middle of a sidewalk. People won’t walk by you. They’ll walk through you. I swear, I’ve never been pushed aside so often, and so unapologetically. Its a culture thing. No, Shanghai residents aren’t rude. They are just used to not having people in their way. Walk fast, live fast and play fast. As a tourist, who’s spent most of his life living in urban setting, and living the fast-paced life, I’m slow by Shanghai standards. Oh, and those taxis. Never have I seen so many taxis refuse fares in a popular district like “the bund”.

I didn’t get a culture shock in Beijing; in Shanghai, I’m yet to get used to the culture. Hopefully, by the end of this term, I’ll understand Shanghai better

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