Becoming Shanghai

August 24th, 2010

Location: Room 8321, Green Tree Inn, Wuzhong Rd., Shanghai
Time: 12:32

Today, I was pushed, prodded, and stuck with a needle. I was disrobed, re-robed, and disrobed again. Strangers’ hands patted my naked flesh, manipulated my head and neck, and looked up my nose and down my throat. And for all this, I had to pay 700 RMB - paid to be violated, that’s my idea of a Tuesday well spent.

At 7:45 this morning we all loaded into taxis and made our way to the medical travel center to be robbed of our dignity and our pocket money. Sitting next to each other in white robes and blue booties over our feet was yet another experience to add to our seemingly never-ending bonding fests. If we all pass, we will be looking forward to a whole year of such experiences – hopefully ones that involve a little more clothing and less blood-letting. But with this group, who knows? No, really – who knows?

Between my first solo outing into this humming city and from where I sit today, more has happened than I can truly sit down and process. I have found an apartment, met my employer, greeted my fellow teachers, hugged “old” friends (they feel like old friends, at least), taken the bus, the metro, multiple taxis, pointed and gestured for my meals, acquired a phone and a new Chinese mobile number, and dodged multiple speeding vehicles.

I feel like I have become Shanghai – minus the Chinese characters.

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