Up early and packed, ready for
I give the lecture and at the end ask for questions and not surprisingly the first question: why is the western media so biased against
From Fudan we head to the consulate for a reception. I have about an hour to kill before the evening event so I walk around the neighborhood where the consulate is located. This is the old French concession (
The reception, where unbeknownst to me, I am the keynote speaker, is an odd collection of Chinese who have been Fulbrighters or are involved in Chinese journalism. After my very brief talk (translated into Chinese after every sentence), I meet some very interesting folks, many of whom want me to come to their university/newspaper to give an additional talk. I would be more than happy to return. By I am exhausted and hungry. The guests have left and the consulate staff ends up in the kitchen wolfing down the remaining reception food. I guess this is dinner.
I return to the Ritz and take a luxurious bath before climbing into my unbelievably comfortable bed. I could get used to this!
Friday April 11
Celine and Katie arrive by overnight train, a little bleary eyed, but happy to sit in the room and watch TV before heading out. They spend the day going to all the high rise towers in Pudong that I, acrophobe, have no interest in seeing. I leave at 10 to go to the Shanghai offices of the dreaded China Daily. The consulate staff has told me to be as frank as I want to be and I am ready to express my deep concern over their western-media-bashing coverage. Ostensibly, I am there to talk about new media but when I ask how many are working on web stuff, none are. They do not have a website! (The
We leave China Daily and Alys from the consulate and Rob, who has come down from the Beijing embassy for these talks, go to lunch with me at a great Shanghai-style restaurant, Lynn’s. Alys orders, thankfully, and everything is delicious. We have a good conversation about
After lunch we go to a journalist “association” meeting. In
After this event I am free to relax. I go up to my comfy room at the Ritz and await the return of Celine and Katie. I am eager to go try out some new restaurants, but Katie is tired and there is a looooong line to get a cab so we just walk to a nearby California Pizza Kitchen and eat. The movie Jaws is on TV and Katie is eager to go back and watch it. Like me, she is concerned with media bias: she is concerned that the movie is unfair to sharks, because sharks are not likely to eat people!
Fearing no sharks, we check out the Ritz pool and hot tub and I feel rejuvenated.
Saturday April 12
After a hefty dose of television, Katie is ready to see the city. We head out to YuYuan, a very touristy, but still lovely old part of the city. It is a huge area of traditional Chinese style architecture housing shops, including that famous Chinese coffee place: Starbucks, and Haagen Das, as well as a famous dumpling joint and lots of stalls with Chinese trinkets. It is pretty well packed with Chinese tourists. There is a fee to enter the Yu gardens but we pay and find a much more tranquil ancient Chinese experience. Beautiful gardens with koi filled ponds, wisteria and azaleas in bloom, neat round gateways and beautifully carved alleyways. Celine was so enamored with the fish in the ponds that she bent over and “gave” her sunglasses to them…
We leave there and walk to the Bund, the famous pre-war waterfront with western-influenced building design. Across the river from the Bund is Pudong, the new glitzy high-rise architectural extravaganza. The Bund is in need of a facelift, and Pudong needs to get off steroids (this whole vast skyline was rice paddies less than 20 years ago).
We take a taxi to one of the lunch places I had read about, a Balinese restaurant inside a park. The setting is lovely, eating outside beside a pond with the beautiful blooming park all around. The food was just OK. From there we head back to the hotel for a “rest”. I fall sound asleep. Katie is happy watching TV and Celine is on her laptop. Rallying the troops to go out for dinner is not easy. Under duress, Katie agrees to go to the French quarter to walk around. We take a cab to the consulate and re-trace my steps from Thursday, assuming we’d see more of the same European style neighborhood. But we quickly end up in a more typical noisy Chinese neighborhood. We decide to take a cab back to the hotel and return to
Sunday April 13
We start to pack up and then head out to the
After the museum we head out to People’s Park (formerly the Shanghai Horse-racing track in pre communist times). A zillion little kids are out with their families for a Sunday stroll, all of them in their little split pants. I really don’t see how split pants is a good idea, but every kid, rich and poor, wear them. I am sure the kids love not wearing diapers but I think the likelihood of the ‘waste’ missing the clothing, and landing somewhere not damaging a rug or a lawn (or a pair of designer shoes on a public sidewalk (!)) are not good.
Katie is again not thrilled to be dragged to another sightseeing destination, but we take a cab to Xin Tian Ti, an area designed by the same guy that did
From the founding of the C-Party museum we incongruously taxi it back to the Ritz! Check out, but leave the bags at the front desk. Celine is off to her new hotel, where she will be staying with a C-NBC News crew for the week. Katie and I head for the pool and hot tub.
I am feeling very pampered and I really needed this. Thank you Uncle Sam for allowing me to come to the Shanghai Ritz!
My overall impression is that
At we go out to get a taxi for the airport. About 10 minutes into the ride, I notice in the rear view mirror, that the driver’s eyes keep closing. And as they close, we decelerate. Then he wakes up and pushes on the gas. I am alarmed, but we are in stop and go traffic, so the worst that can happen is a fender bender, right? As the car slows and lurches, I keep yelling “wake up” from the back seat, but he doesn’t seem to respond. The windows are open and the radio is on and I am just another noise that he clearly is tuning out. He nearly misses the exit for the airport, but then swerves across several lanes of traffic and goes down a ramp. We are accelerating rapidly now, reaching almost 50-60 miles per hour and his eyes are completely closed. I can’t hit him because he is encased in the clear plastic barrier that separates a cabbie from his passengers, so I keep yelling “wake up”, grab Katie tight and say a prayer. The driver, now sound asleep, nods forward, hits his head on the steering wheel, and comes to, just as we are about to hit a jersey barrier. I want to get out, but have no way of stopping him. My palms are sweating and my heart is racing. Thankfully, we are stuck in traffic so as long as he stays at this speed, we’ll survive. And we do. He pulls up to the curb at the airport and I am a wreck. I really want to report this guy, but don’t know how. I fear he will pick up another fare. Good luck to them. I say goodbye but keep saying in my useless Chinese “get some coffee, buddy!”
The plane is delayed about 30-40 minutes and for the two and half hour wait at the airport, the non-stop public address announcements are making me crazy. I really am suffering from noise pollution as much as any other kind of pollution. Every mall store has its own blaring music, the constant hammering on car horns or people yelling at each other in every exchange, is relentless. The Ritz was peaceful and completely quiet. And I dread going back to the noise of the apartment. But return we must. We finally board the airplane and Katie and I are just getting settled into our seats when Katie pokes me. She is holding up a piece of white chewy candy and embedded in it is a blood-soaked tooth! I quickly get her some Kleenex and she shoves a wad of it up into the new hole in her mouth. This Chinese candy is pretty chewy!!
We get home around . Katie has fallen asleep in the taxi and I have to wake her up at the gate because the guard will not let the taxi drive in. We schlep our suitcases all the way back to the apartment building and crash.
Thankfully, no military drills until and the construction crews seem to be making fewer trips in their noisy truck outside our building. The tooth fairy deposits a few yuan under a pillow and hits the hay.
The sun is shining through a thin haze and it is very warm, maybe 75. The new toilet is not working….it must be the pipes. I call the waiban to tell her we are not out of the woods yet. She suggests we move across the hall, but the aggravation does not seem worth it. If we could move to a QUIET place downtown, I’d do it, but I don’t think that is in the cards.
I spend the day reading accumulated emails, unpacking, doing laundry, planning a vacation to the west of
Katie came home yesterday and announced she wanted to go to a basketball game today after school, so I signed the permission slip and told Shen Shifu to pick her up at 5. I worked at home all morning. I talked with a fellow mom of a Yiyanger in
In class today, the students played their second audio stories and while the editorial quality is great, the production and pronunciation is still a work in progress. After class Sophia asks to meet with me and because Katie is going to be late at school, I am free. Sophia is a serious girl, from a northeastern province up by
When We were called Sick man of
When We are billed to be the next Superpower, We are called The threat.
When We were closed our doors, You smuggled Drugs to Open Markets.
When We Embrace Freed Trade, You blame us for Taking away your jobs.
When We were falling apart, You marched in your troops and wanted your "fair share".
When We were putting the broken peices together again, "Free
(When Woodrow Wilson Couldn't give back Birth Place of Confucius back to Us,
But He did bought a ticket for the Famine Relief Ball for us.)
So, We Tried Communism, You hated us for being Communists
When We embrace Capitalism, You hate us for being Capitalist.
When We have a Billion People, you said we were destroying the planet.
When We are tried limited our numbers, you said It was human rights abuse.
When We were Poor, You think we are dogs.
When We Loan you cash, You blame us for your debts.
When We build our industries, You called us Polluters.
When we sell you goods, You blame us for global warming.
When We buy oil, You called that exploitation and Genocide.
When You fight for oil, You called that Liberation.
When We were lost in Chaos and rampage, You wanted Rules of Law for us.
When We uphold law and order against Violence, You called that Violating
When We were silent, You said you want us to have Free Speech.
When We were silent no more, You say we were Brainwashed-Xenophoics.
Why do you hate us so much? We asked.
"No," You Answered, "We don't hate You."
We don't Hate You either,
But Do you understand us?
"Of course We do," You said,
What do you really want from us?
Think Hard first, then Answer...
Because you only get so many chances,
Enough is Enough, Enough Hypocrisy for this one world.
We want One World, One Dream, And Peace On Earth.
- This Big Blue Earth is Big Enough for all of Us.
There is a real sense that
After school, Katie arrives home in a basketball uniform, covered in sweat and dirt. I had thought she was going as a team supporter, having never played basketball in her life, but she was one of the 5 players on the BISS team! And she scored two “goals”, presumably baskets. The score of the hour long game? 12-4 with Katie’s school coming out on top! Yao Ming watch out!!
After dinner, and thinking about how I might contribute to this book, I decide to probe a bit into Katie’s thinking about
I have been informing the folks at the embassy about our housing issues and they think we ought to consider moving. I am really torn, the devil I know may be better than the devil I don’t know….and it would be a big hassle to find a place and physically move. But the prospect of a nice, quiet, functional place is very appealing. I hate for this housing to be the source of an otherwise potentially more positive experience here. What to do, what to do?!
Wednesday: Sun, covered in white soup hazey, about 70 degrees
I have not been to the last two Chinese language classes and after a restless night’s sleep, decide to skip this one too. I think I have learned all I am going to learn, enough to get in a cab and get where I need to go, find a bathroom, and order food. I wish I could learn more, but at some point you weigh the likelihood of ever coming back and really needing it against other things I’d rather be doing, in this case, sleeping in!!
I work at home until 10 and then go to meet my student Michael at my office. He wants to talk about his future. Michael and I go to the bank (where I begin withdrawing the maximum allowed over the next four days which I will need to buy airline tickets for our vacation to
At eleven, Eve comes by my office and we chat for more than an hour about the latest CNN flap. Apparently, the commentator Jack Cafferty has insulted the Chinese and the blogosphere and the Chinese government are going berserk again. There was apparently a nationalist demonstration planned for outside the gates of
I return home for lunch and get my copy of the China Daily and the CNN story is the lead: “China Demands CNN apologize for slander”. Well, Cafferty and CNN did issue an apology, saying the criticisms were against the government and not the Chinese people, but that gets short shrift in the
At one, I meet with the three PhD candidates who I am asking to give research presentations in June. They have passed in their first “research” assignment and it is totally opinion, impressionistic with no research. So we go over expectations and they seem daunted by this task….stay tuned.
We go to class and I do my schtick on Watergate and how the resources that the Post dedicated to investigating Nixon would probably not have happened in today’s newspaper economy. I show the film All the President’s Men, but it is too “inside baseball” and the dialogue is too muffled for them to really understand. So I try to explain what is going on. We see about 40 minutes of it total and they clearly aren’t following, so I abandon that plan. This class is real work. Either their English is not great and/or they are unwilling to participate in any debate or answer any questions. A couple of them are good, but several just give me the blank stare. They are not taking it for credit, so why do they keep coming every week?
After class I head home. I check my email and Mark Ma, our adoption facilitator from Yiyang ten years ago, who I have not heard from in YEARS, sends me a column written by a UC Berkeley Prof. that advocates a middle ground between
Meanwhile, Eve’s roommate, Stefanie, wants to do a photo essay on Katie/Chinese adoptees and she comes over at 4 to ask permission. Katie is reluctant, but finally agrees. While Stefanie is there, Mercy and the other young professor with good English named Judy come over. I have not heard from Mercy since the disastrous night when she inspected my toilet after I yelled at her, so I am glad she is still speaking to me after my bad behavior! Judy wants me to come and speak to her classes about western media and why/if they are biased. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to defend my profession and my colleagues, so I agree to do two lectures/Q&A.
Finally, everyone leaves and we have dinner and then a quiet night reading. Katie is reading The Diary of Ma Yan and I finallllllly finish the book Nixon and Mao, the week that changed the world. While I’ve just spent the afternoon railing about what a paranoid, evil character Richard Nixon was during Watergate, I have to say, I must thank him for the overture to
Rather than ranting about the noise outside, I am now recording it to add to the blog (if I can figure out how to do this). And now that there is a mission behind the madness, I am somehow bothered less by the incessant “hop, 2, 3, 4”. I am really trying to change my attitude, and if every day were as full as this one, it would be easier.
Sunny, I think, but covered in intense milky haze. I can taste the air and it is burning my nose and the inside of my throat……and I haven’t left the house yet.
Lucy and Cate are arriving today from the States so I pick up the apartment a bit. Adrienne from NBC contacted me. She will be in my neighborhood today so we plan to meet at . She says NBC could use some help this summer, but I need to figure out the housing and visa issues, (and decide if I reallllly want to be here that long). Part of me wants to stay, assuming the Olympic sideshow is going to be a big story, I don’t want to miss it. But part of me is eager to head home. For the second day in a row, the headline in the China Daily today is about CNN’s Jack Cafferty “insulting the Chinese people”. Why are the Chinese propagandists beating this anti-western media thing so hard?? Who cares what Jack Cafferty says?!? I don’t want to be a target of some pissed-off nationalist nut.
When Cate and Lucy arrive they bring some really wonderful gifts and cards from friends in
I cook up a little supper and then we all take a walk around the campus on this balmy 70 degree night. Lucy manages to stay awake until 9, and Cate is still chatting away with Katie at 10….so no jet lag here! Now if they can sleep through the marchers chanting outside, that will be a real success.
Eve has sent a lovely, moving letter to Katie. She emailed it to me in Chinese two weeks ago and has now translated it into English. She talks about Yiyang and her sadness that Yiyang could not provide for Katie, but her happiness that Katie will have many opportunities that she might never have had if she had been raised in Yiyang. Very poignant. Eve is a gifted writer and I am moved to tears.
This has been the best week in a while, maybe in the entire time I’ve been here. Let’s hope this keeps up.