Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The start of something

November 2002

My first day in Shanghai was spent in the office going over plans and setting actions. Lucia was due to arrive the following afternoon, so we wanted a draft timetable by then.

The evening was spent with Henry, Henry's wife and another colleague called Nicky. We went to a restaurant that specialized in hairy crab, a Shanghai delicacy. It proved to be quite an experience.

It was the first time I had used chopsticks and the first time I had eaten a whole crab. It wasn't long before my obvious inexperience became apparent to the many waitresses. That, along with me being the only white face in the restaurant, meant that I became an item of curiosity. Soon our table was surrounded by young girls, all trying to help me. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Later, we walked down the Nanjing Road. An incredible site; every colour of the spectrum shone out from what must have been thousands of neon signs, along a one mile pedestrian walkway. At the end of which was the world famous view of Pudong, along the Bund.

It took just a few minutes, as we walked, before I realised that people were stopping to look at me, some smiled, some ventured a 'hello' or even a 'how are you?'. Never before had I received such attention. Who could fail to enjoy it?

Most of those looking were women, but it was always the men that spoke. And although it was fairly late into the evening, the streets were full, and the shops open for business.

After admiring the view, we jumped in a taxi, and headed for our hotels.

I got back to my room, picked up the telephone and called Maggie.

It was a night I will always remember. It was the start of something.

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