“China… is not a destination. It’s a life’s work — a continuing investigation, a boundless, endlessly fascinating mystery.”
– Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations (Shanghai)
The first of what will inevitably be many posts praising the Shanghainese food scene…
With a smiling face, dough-caked fingers, and a quick invitation for you to sit down, the waitress at my local steamed dumpling joint is better than yours — not that it’s a competition (and if it were, there wouldn’t even be one).
That said, it’s probably impossible to get a bad meal in the entire city of Shanghai.
Now that I’ve settled in and gotten my bearings, I can’t help but think about what it took to get here.
It took quite a bit of time, energy, paperwork, and a 14-hour flight to get me to this very spot. Not least of all, it took the efforts of professors, mentors, family, and friends to help me understand the role I want to fill in the world.
For that, I owe them quite a bit of gratitude.
So thanks for the honest truth. Thanks for being in my corner. Thanks for having a hand in all this — this predictably unpredictable journey. It was a twist of fate that spun the world under our feet exactly enough for us to coincide, and it will be another unfathomable turn of events that will cause us to reconvene.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of so many things happening at once.
There has been a lot of anxiety about when I get there, and how I will be able to find internet, phone cards, even drive a stick for the first time on the opposite side that I’m used to. But on the outside, the world is busy.
I’ve waited for so long to receive this little sticker in my passport, and now that I have it am I ready?
I’m currently sitting at my dining room table in my humble abode in California. Next to me sits my passport with a freshly stuck visa for South Africa. The feelings are mixed, but I’m more than ready to jump on the plane for a 20+ hour flight to my new home.
Being wrong is the sweetest stab in the back.
Just like the GRE, you’re right or you’re wrong. It’s no less tricky out here either — you never stop getting fooled. The only difference is that every moment is a new question. Every second is no second chance. Every step is another rectangular “Continue” button reminiscent of 90’s internet in the top right corner.
With less than two weeks until departure, I start to see the value in letting things happen.
If there’s one person I’d follow blindly to my own undoing, it’d damn well be Professor Chang. This genuinely caring woman took her time in advising me about the thrill of life in the world’s largest city, but quickly followed up her comments by insisting that I watch myself around drink and Shanghainese women. I’ve been warned — it’ll just be schoolbooks and a recently developed proclivity to gambling for me then.
I better explain.