Friday, May 05, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Museum...

Yesterday around 2 pm, I set off in search of a museum that is not very close to the hostel but not far from a main road that I could walk along from the hostel. So, rather than turn left on Beijing Road as I normally did, (the direction to go to the Bund), I turned right. For blocks and blocks, I passed machinery shops, some quite large, and some that are just like little storefronts, that sold all kinds of nuts, bolts, devices, rope, steel poles. Whatever machinery your heart could desire.

I passed a garden with beautiful flowers that also went on for a few city blocks. A couple sitting on a bench said "Ni Hao" to me and I approached them to say hello. They looked so sweet that I showed them my camera and asked if I could take a photo (not in Mandarin by the way, in hand-signal), and the woman's face lit up. We decided the city street backdrop against which they sat wasn't as nice as the flowers, so they stood in front of the park instead. I snapped the photo and then showed them. They asked that I sit with them for a few moments to chat but soon our conversation ran dry, as you might expect given our limited shared vocabulary. Anyway, I wanted to continue on my journey, so I bid them adeiu and walked on.

At some point, perhaps nearly 2 hours since I had began my trek, I ran across a couple of boutiques, which seemed out of place along the road I was going. But I stepped inside to see what they offered. And in one I found a skirt that I really thought looked cool. I tried it on. A perfect fit! But, unlike the shop next door, this place didn't accept credit cards and I didn't have enough money. So, I went a couple of streets down and found a bank. Turns out the street I was on to get to the bank was Nanjing Road, and this is a very busy shopping street. After buying the skirt, I also realized I was hungry and my committment to finding the museum seemed to dissipate. Instead, I returned to Nanjing Road and found myself in a couple more shops. Buying clothes!

So, a skirt, a dress, and two tops later, I decided to head home via Nanjing. Growing ever more hungry, I also thought now was a good time to try out one of the vegetarian restaurants I had read about. So, several more blocks down, I found it. It was big and at first I thought maybe it was no longer there, replaced with something more "meaty." But, this place is popular it turns out, and indeed, completely vegetarian. But, they do make dishes out to be like meat. I know you will all be disappointed to learn that I did not try anything daring. No fake-meat fried sparrow for me. Or pig bowel. Or mealie with pine nuts. What the heck hey mean by "mealie" I don't know, but that doesn't sound good. I was so very curious to see what I would be eating had I ordered the "Verdure Towel Gourd Cassserole," but I am sorry to say that in the end I didn't get that either. I got some tasty noodles and some sweet and sour soup. Very run of the mill, but delicious and I didn't have to worry that the soup base was made of pork or that I would find pieces of meat in the noodles.

Right before I went inside the restaurant, it had started to sprinkle. And by the time I left, the sun had gone down and the rain poured a bit more heavily. But the temperature was warm and it felt glorious to walk outside in the rain with the reflection of Shanghai city lights on the wet pavement and asphalt.

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