Step out and discover

After sending Ann to her pottery class, I have about an hour...never familiar with the roads in Puxi and I find the place congested so don't really enjoy walking alone. But with the one hour waiting time, I might as well just venture out.

Just beside Ann's school, I saw a little alley, safe enough to walk in. I decided to just check out the place and I was in for a surprise...

The were rows of small little shops, artsy shops, quirky shops and cafes

The old and the new, the ancient and the modern, a wonderful harmony

Lots of alfresco cafes line the alley too

Beautiful murals work of art

The houses here are old but they have their personality and their own character. Although the shops and cafes are new, the structure of the houses, (stone houses known as shikumen) are very much the same. A place which has retained its uniqueness inspite of the ever changing landscape of Shanghai.

This one hour of discovery reminded me of this that I have read...It's a beautiful thing when you leave yourself vulnerable to discover anything and everything. ~ Kate Hudson

Shhh...artist at work

Ann in full concentration...don't disturb
Evian...for brushing teeth

In Shanghai, tap water is not safe for drinking and so the people here drink only bottled water. There are many local brands of bottled water, Nestle is considered a foreign brand which the locals seldom buy, then of course you have the super-branded brand Evian, Perrier and probably some other brands which I do not know because I do not buy them.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that her friend had said this to her...

"I don't use Nestle water to drink, I only use it to wash fruits and vegetables and also for cooking. For drinking and brushing teeth, I use Evian."

When I heard that, I nearly fell off from my seat. My family and I have been drinking Nestle bottled water since we arrived at Shanghai. We brush teeth using Hyflux filter filtered tap water and we are alive and kicking. If only Evian bottled water is fit for drinking and brushing teeth, then who are we seeing...the millions of people walking on the streets of Shanghai.

That is why, from day one, I have told myself that I should and MUST never be sucked into the 'expat-tai-tai' (lady of leisure) mentality. I must stressed that NOT all expats trailing spouses behave this way but there are indeed a large majority of such, I call them 'snooty expat-tai-tais'. When I meet them at the farmers' market club house, my smiles and nods of acknowledgment will never or rarely be reciprocated. Perhaps I am invisible or their eys are stuck on their heads or maybe they all think I am an 'ayi' (maid).

My friend onced wtitnessed an incident where the mother of a toddler literally had to peel the wailing child off from the 'ayi' as the 'ayi' needed to do some work. Very sad scene as I agreed with my friend that it showed how much time the ayi has spent with the child. I cannot imagine the day when the toddler has to return home. Remember expats are just visitors in a foreign land.

I also remember reading in a forum where one mother was venting about how she wanted the 'ayi' to stay till the baby is put to sleep but the ayi didn't want to as she wanted to go home by 7pm. So sad isn't it. That these expat-tai-tais look upon themselves as queens and that they have forgotten that they are the mothers of their own kids. They must remember that evetually reality will set in when it is time to go home.

I have recently got to know this new arrival - an expat wife, her husband is a CEO that makes her a CEO's wife, you would have imagined her to be one who will be living the high life of a CEO's wife. But she is one down-to-earth woman. She asked me about marketing in a local market, got all excited about shopping at wholesale market....she told me, "why spent RMB100 when you can just pay RMB50 for the same thing." I have finally found a who refused to be called an expat wife, one who refused to live an expat lifestyle, not only that, she refused to let her three daughters lead such a life too. She said, "if they are so used to it, what happens when we get home?"

My new friend told me that she met up with a lady who thinks tea and three sandwiches cost RMB700 is perfectly normal in Shanghai and she nearly choked on her bread.

As for me, I would rather head home to enjoy with my family, my homemade chocolatey cupcakes, perhaps two or three loaves of no-knead bread and the many dozens of dumplings which I have learned from my dim-sum course!