Notes from Shanghai: What a strange people, what a city

2010-05-24 09:35

I have been counting down the days until I get on an aircraft that

is going to fly me away from the East to the South – home sweet home.

I have fantasised about that moment when I would stand at the door

of a South African Airways plane and give the city of Shanghai the mighty

finger. My days in that city have been filled with either fear or loathing, and

I couldn’t wait to break out.
 
So desperate that I called home and begged for an

early departure because my bullsh*t radar was beeping at an alarming rate and I

was in danger of klapping someone.

So when I was told I could cut my Chinese adventure by three days,

I went down on my knees and thanked all the gods and ancestors I could think of.

I was so grateful.

But on my last day, something happened that introduced some grey

into my black and white vision of Shanghai and it’s people. I had lots of

fun!

In fact, I’m still in shock and confused by this alien feeling.

Fear and loathing, remember? So what the heck is this now?

You know those romcoms where the guy and the girl butt heads from

the word go, and only later discover that they are indeed in love? Well, I feel

like that girl. Okay, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m in love with Shanghai

– far from it – but I’m (wo)man enough to admit that something in me was

awakened on that last night.

It all started with my visit to Vika Khumalo, South Africa’s

consul-general, who spent the better part of an hour trying to explain the

Chinese to me.

They are not that bad, he said. They are just curious and express

themselves differently to us.

Khumalo went on to regale me about his and his family’s

(mis)adventures with the Chinese when they first moved to the city four years

ago. I laughed until tears streamed down my face when he told me how these

people used to pinch him to see if he was real or grab at his daughter’s braids.

Once, someone even rubbed his child’s hand to see if the black would come

out!

In retrospect it is funny, but the lack of respect or understanding

of personal boundaries is what gets me up the wall. And incidentally, almost

every other black person I hooked up with later that day complained about

this.

Still, I left Khumalo’s office feeling a little more relaxed and

receptive. I even offered to pose for pictures with a group of people who had

crowded the South African pavilion at the Expo. Don’t ever say I don’t serve my

country.

But it was later that evening when a group of South African

delegates and myself decided to hit the town. I wanted to end my awful week on a

high. We hooked up with a couple of Chinese girls who know one of our party and,

I have to say, those girls will never know what they did for their city and

countrymen in my eyes. They were friendly, relaxed, fun and took us to Mint, the

most happening – and outrageously expensive – nightclub in the city and got us

in without paying.

Determined as I was to hate everything and everyone there, I found

myself literally dancing for four straight hours without ever sitting

down.

The music pumped, the sweat dripped, there was even – horror of

horrors – some flirting going on! By the time I shuffled onto my evening flight,

sunglasses firmly in place, I was ever-so-slightly regretting cutting my trip

short. So who knows, maybe one day...

 

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.