There are days as I walk over to the Avocado Lady and I look around me in wonder and pinch myself that I live in Shanghai. These are the days when I’ve crossed the road like a local – not with a local.
When I don’t jump every time a horn honks.
These are the days when someone drops litter into the road I don’t mind because I know it will be swept up by the city’s army of street cleaners.
That’s a Shanghai day.
Then there are days as I walk over to the Avocado Lady and there are bikes and cars coming at me in all directions even on the pavement, horns are honking incessantly, no one gives way just a little bit, a baby pink Mini Cooper with eyelashes on the headlights whips past a migrant worker on a push bike and I wonder what we are doing here.
That’s a Shanglo day.
Truth be told, Shanglo days are few and far between and I know it’s just a state of mind.
But occasionally, it’s easy to forget the many blessings in your life and Shanglo days are the ones when instead of saying “better out than in” when the guy walking towards you hurls a phlegm projectile onto the pavement right in front of you, you think ” Really??!”
It’s the day when the old woman times a sour garlic scented belch to micro second perfection just as she walked by, thus ensuring you get the full benefit of the acrid onslaught. Really?!?
Or it’s the day when someone blows their nose. Onto to the pavement. Right in front of you.
On a Shanghai day you’d be thinking ‘that was a little too close for comfort’ and the moment would be forgotten. And you’d carry on to the Avocado Lady and on with your day.
But then there’s the day when instead of laughing at the foreigners walking around with their masks on because, you know – so what? your 3M ones arrive in the post and even though they are still in their packaging and have never been used, it’s just a bit rubbish that you had to order them in the first place.
Or it’s the day you are cycling back from a spin class with the green light in your favour and you’re gathering up speed to cross the main road and an old man comes right at you from your left making no effort and swerve and you end up falling in the middle of the road and he just trundles right past you…..One broken brake handle and a bruised ego later you wonder what he was doing and why he didn’t stop to help.
And then later that day as you’re walking around Fangbang Lu in an effort to snap out of your funk, you remember that a smile begets a smile. And it’s a Shanghai kind of day again.
But most times it’s a Shanglo day when you get off Skype after talking to your Mum and Dad and you feel sad and not a little guilty that you’re so far away and that now instead of seeing them nearly every week like you used to, you’re lucky to see them once or twice a year.
And even though you were feeling a bit Shanglo after the Skype call, and the horizon outside is hazy and grey and you don’t want to go for a walk in it and you definitely have no interest in wearing one of those masks collecting dust in the cupboard you boil the kettle, liquorice tea is brewed and you sit for a few moments and lose yourself in your recipe books and you choose a different emotion.
And it’s a Shanghai day again.