Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grifters, Killers, Burlesque

Those three words are all you need to know about my weekend. Sort of.

Grifters: I was looking for the big western market that's in the basement of the mall near where I live. Things like that are difficult for me. I hate finding stuff. Keys. Commercial Establishments. My apartment. Etc. This short Chinese guy spots me and does a u-turn. 

"Hallo! Where are you from!"

"America" I squeeze my purse extra tight under my arm. I've been warned about this.

He proceeds to sing me a Cindy Lauper song to prove how much he loves my motherland. 

I've got my purse squeezed real tight. There's no way it's coming loose. And I really can't find this damn grocery store. So I ask him and he jumps at the chance to escort me. I tell him my name and he proceeds to chat me up saying "Leslie" every fifth word.

We get downstairs. I pick up my shopping basket. 

"Leslie - you can help me. I have some American money, you can just give me some small Chinese money and exchange, okay?"


"I don't think so. I'm not going back to America."

"But someday you will, or maybe your friends will."

"No. I don't want to."

"Okay. So what do you want to buy. I can take you around the store and ask you some questions."

I turned to him. The game was over. We both knew it.

"Bye." I say.

"Okay bye." He replies and disappears.

I buy some Japanese milk, some prunes, a couple jars of nuts. It costs an arm and a leg. This con-guy though; He intrigued me by how polished the act was. Disarm me with Cindy Lauper. Use my name like we're friends. Do me a favor. Then ask for one in return that I can't politely refuse. I refuse. He leaves.

Killers Not really - but my aunt has dubbed my friend I met on Craig's list (the one with all the glamorous friends and the beautiful house in the French Concession) the Craig's List killer. He had me over for lunch again this weekend. We ate salmon on his patio and talked about the cultural revolution. Tomorrow night I'm going to dinner at the home of (another) older guy (who I met at church) who lives in the French Concession. Making a habit? This guy is investing in the lingerie business. I'm not really sure what my Craig's List friend does besides collect antique Chinese furniture.

Burlesque I went to my first burlesque show Saturday night. Some people from work were having their birthday. It was fun. And tasteful (as those things come). Have to say I was a tad disappointed no one made their pasty tassels twirl like propellers. 

p.s. I just typed in "pasty boob" to see if I was spelling it right. Google Hong Kong wouldn't allow the search because I'm here on the mainland. Time to fire up the old VPN...

Church! Since I mentioned it (buried back there between killers and burlesque). This was my second Sunday. I found this lovely old chapel in the French Concession. Not that I had much choice - I think there are all of two state-condoned protestant services in Shanghai. State-condoned means you have to hold a foreign passport (Hong Kong and Taiwan are okay) to get into the English-language service. That definitely rubs me wrong, but there's nothing the church can do about it.  The communion wafers are served in dime bags. Which is sanitary, but, um, odd. And every Sunday, after they welcome newcomers, they ask if anyone who has been attending for several months (or more) is leaving. Because that's how it goes here - always people coming and going. I think that'll be the hardest part of getting adjusted here. My new BFFs (Mike and Jess) who I stayed with when I first arrived are leaving in June.

Work is good. I'm liking it more and more, feeling comfortable - it's going to be a good job.

I'll get pictures up this weekend.


personalityandcruelty said...

So this is a delurking/totally off-topic/random comment turned question. First off, I love your blog! I think you've got a great voice, and it's no wonder that you now get paid to blog. For the question - you don't have to answer it too specifically, but I was wondering what you do for your banking when in Asia. I'm looking to teach english in Taiwan later in the year, but since I am a bit neurotic, I am already thinking about options for banking. All of my student loans are set to automatic online payments, which I'm going to continue. However, I don't know the first thing about what to do with any potential extra money after traveling and living expenses (I know this may be a high hope, but a girl can dream). I was hoping you could share some insight and/or experience.

Leslie said...

hey, thanks! glad you like my blog. My recommendation is you check out forumosa.com - that's the best source for all things expat in Taiwan.

ha, I got paid in cash most the time when I was there. And when I did have a direct-deposit job, the bank was not especially english friendly.

however I did have friends paying off student loans. and I know there are banks that are better for getting cash back and forth. forumosa would be the best place to look for those answers.