Monday, August 23, 2010

I live in a small town.

There's some 20 million people living in Shanghai. But only about half a million are foreign. And of that, only a minority is Western-foreign (Koreans and Japanese far out number us, but they don't live in the city center). And of those Western-foreigners, the group of us non-student 20- to 30-something workers is a miniscule piece of the whole pie. Case in point:

Today I went out to Pudong to review a French restaurant, which was delicious but awkward: The chef, the sales manager, and this PR lady all just sat there and watched me eat an entire tasting menu - fresh salad, foie gras salad, seafood-thing-with-french-name-I've-forgotten and pan-fried foie gras which is delicious.

I took a cab with the PR lady back across the river, at rush hour, so it took forever. We talked about life and work and how I shouldn't turn on my air conditioner because I have a head cold (old Chinese wisdom right there). She dropped me off at my apartment, just a few blocks from her office.

About an hour later I headed out to meet a new friend for dinner.

We start chatting about our days - and I tell her I was just in Pudong reviewing a French restaurant.

"With PR Lady?" my friend asks. "She said she hopes your cold gets better soon."


Turns out PR Lady and new friend work at the same company. And within the space of two hours news had traveled about my state of health.

It's kind of a mundane story, but things like that happen all the time. I can't go out to a bar without seeing someone I know. And everyone knows everyone's biz-nass.

Even if it is just the sniffles.

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