my little brother and i sat at a restaurant table facing a big window that looked out at one of the Shanghai malls. people passed. then more people passed. an endless river of persons, which the world had come to see as one body: china
we spent the new year in Shanghai visiting my father, and perhaps the most reoccurring inhabitant in my eyes was the reoccurring inhabitants. no matter where we went: the underground tram, the business and shopping centers, even just stepping out into the street, the people molded into one mass, each with his or her own destination, but moving there together.
In uganda, we have a few areas, especially in the capital that are like this; where one has to push and slide through if one wants to move. but it was different in Shanghai. In Uganda, no matter where you are, the busy city or the seemingly lonely village, there are eyes peering at you. Normally the eyes belong to a small boy or girl, silently and curiously looking from behind his mother or around some tall grasses. He's looking at this strange singularity he's never seen. You're interesting, whether you want to be or not. But in China, I wasn't interesting. Though we might have been the only three foreigners on the street or in the metro, no one seemed to notice. I could look around at all the surrounding eyes, and for the first time in a long time, none of those eyes were looking back. I don't know how I feel about this. It's peaceful, easy, but strangely individual and alone also, i think. Every one's doing his or her own thing, and you should too. Maybe i never noticed it before, but when you see that person looking at you, you realize they're silently inquiring, wondering about you, and though oftentimes it certainly seems invasive, like an attack on your privacy, before you know it, you're wondering about them too. You're aware of another, and maybe that's a good thing.
my brother and i spent a little over a week in Shanghai. we rode to the top of Pearl Tower and looked out at a city as vast and busy as I've even seen. Dad took us to The Bund, a cityscape stretched out across the entire horizon, bordered by the freight and steam slowly drifting off a snaking river. We climbed the stone steps of a Buddhist temple, lit incense, and watched as an aroma of ancient transcendence and unswerving devotion wafted through the shrines. We rode the underground metro to wherever it would take us: Shanghai University, the Museum of Science and Industry, a community of houses and shops where people much like us lived lives that probably weren't all that different either.
For lunch, Neeko and I would find the smallest noodle shop possible, point to the picture of what we wanted, and slurp noodles gripped between struggling chop sticks. For dinner, Dad would take us to eat at the best restaurants I've even eaten at (yes, even better than the peanut butter sandwich which served as my staple food for the past decade). Glistening chicken bathed in flavor, vegies cooked in garlic and butter, dumplings and Saki that made me smile in more ways than one!
But better than all, and continuing to be one of the most amazing facets of life no matter where it congeals, I got to spend time with my family. Riding the metro, watching TV, sprinting to the nearest restroom, it's always more with the fam. But the dumplings were a close second. Kung Pow!
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