Travelling is the part I don’t like about travelling. I mean the packing and all the last minute running around and then finally the transit, especially if it is a long flight. To finally make that eye contact with our tour guide was such a great relief.
It had been a tumultuous couple of months personally and professionally for both hubby and me. We were both looking forward for this holiday and at the end we thought it wasn’t really going to happen with all the uproar in Hong Kong. It felt almost surreal to be on a foreign land and to think that, I had finally dragged my workaholic husband to switch off and relax for a fortnight.
Mmm… that belief lasted all of 24 hrs before I realised that “switch off and relax” was not part of the deal. Another topic for another day.
Shanghai was our first stop in China. We met with our National Tour Guide Sophie and local tour guide Grace and the others of our tour group. The first day was meant to be a day to take it easy until dinner time. We met with Alan and Rosemary, Veronica and Robyn and after that most of the other names were a bit of a blur. As days went by and the tour progressed we all got to know, not just the names but their quirks as well. So for the next fourteen odd days twenty one individuals from different parts of the world and from different walks of life, toured together with laughter, banter and mate ship.
Sophie our National tour guide was a pocket rocket, she was super efficient and worked tirelessly day and night for us to have the best time. She was also impressed with my vocabulary of Mandarin words and phrases that I had picked up watching Chinese dramas on Netflix. My regular vegetable purchases are from a Chinese/Vietnamese owned Market type shop. I had made friends with one of the ladies there and I did practice my Chinese with her prior to my visit to China.
In my days of sailing with my husband, I used to read up about the country we are about to embark and learn at least a few phrases from their native tongue. It makes a world of difference with the locals. They appreciate our efforts, even when we make mistakes, they still love the fact that you had taken the time to learn about them. In contrast, I feel that in English speaking countries, the foreigner is looked down upon for not pronouncing right or not getting it right. Knowing this fact, it still didn’t stop me from taking photos of all the faux pas of where direct translation had gone wrong.
I have a habit taking detours while writing. I just realised other than a photo of Shanghai nothing else has been written about Shanghai so far.
If you require details of age, size, historical dates, population etc I suggest that you use “Google”, since all of us outside of China have access to Google. Yes, that is another fun fact about China, no Google or Facebook access. They have their own social media and google type search engine. But No Google.
We stayed 3 jam packed days in Shanghai. This is – Shanghai through my eyes.
Day one – we arrived at the hotel around lunch time. After settling into our room and a good yarn with Sophie where I sprung her with surprise when I bid her goodbye at the lift with “Zai Jian”. She ended up following us to our room to finish the conversation and also to check if the room was good etc.
We then ventured out on our own to get some lunch. We managed to order some dumplings by pointing to the pictures on the wall. Then we saw the adjoining table eating something like wonton soup. So we ordered that too. It came with a lot side dishes, we had no idea what to do with them. So we copied our neighbors. It was delicious. Just simple honest food. Payment was by the vendor showing the numbers on the calculator. The entire menu which is all of six items were on the wall with a barcode next to it. We observed that most paid with their phone using this barcode. Yes, they still practice Tai Chi but have embraced technology as well.
Day 2 – started with a long lecture/speech by Sophie and Grace of all the do’s and don’ts, and including some of the local cultures and customs.
So Grace explained that most Chinese used scotting toilets, hard beds and hard pillows before the introduction of tourism. Some of the old folk still used a piece of hard wood or brick as their pillow. They preferred hard beds as they feel that it is better for their back. The jury is out on that for me as I prefer softer beds, on the contrary my husband prefers hard beds and blames the soft mattress for his bad back. (obviously the pot belly is not to be blamed for the bad back). So most public toilets used to be scotting toilets but now due to tourism they would have at least a few western toilets in most places. Grace went on to tell us how in the villages the toilets were usually outside, one or two toilets to be shared among a few houses, some may not even have a door. So it was a common practice for them to sing while in the toilet as a sign to say “I am here”. Hence it also got dubbed as the “Happy house”. This became our phrase too.
Shanghai is dubbed as the Paris of the East. I have not been to Paris, but somehow I don’t think this is it. However, it is a beautiful city where the old colonial Architecture and the modern sea of concrete apartments adorn the streets side by side.
As the first city to land on in China, we were amazed at the speed of development that has occurred in a very short span of time. And still going on. The local joke is Shanghai’s famous bird is the “Crane”
Yes their air quality is bad. China can see evidence of pollution and the need for change. It may have been and might still be one of the great polluters, but they are working very hard to rectify this.
Time for some sleep now. The rest about Shanghai tomorrow or when ever time permits next time. I guess I am back at work now.
Cont from The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 1 …. https://uma197.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/the-ganesans-in-the-orient-1/
Adelaide airport was calm and no sign of cancelled flights, Cathy Pacific staff looked unmoved and it didn’t seem like the world was going to end any time soon, so we decided to board the plane and go to China.
After 9 long hours of discomfort and boredom we arrived in Hong Kong. The airport looked deserted. All shops and service counters were closed. And definitely no sign of protesters. Phew!!. We still spent a few more hours of apprehension as there was still no sign of gate allocation for our next flight. About 40 minutes to spare we finally get the gate allocation and we board the flight to Shanghai.
Ni Hao Shanghai
The Ganesan’s touch down.
The earth roared and the sun emerged. A red carpet adorned the air bridge.
China was waiting for us. It could’ve been just turbulence and sun may have just risen as it was the morning, but we will never know if the show was for the benefit for the Ganesan’s. It was disappointing that Xi Jinping did not come to greet us, but we are not one to hold grudges, with everything that was on his plate we could certainly understand. Also we wanted to blend in, not bring attention to ourselves. Please, enough with the paparazzi.
But there was no chance of blending in, every turn there were big signs that blared out “FOREIGNER” and we were continually directed to those lines and queues. We see two tunnels – “To Declare” and the other “Nothing Declare”. Just when we were going to head towards the “Nothing to Declare”, we were shooed off to “Declare”. There was no time or opportunity to explain, we in fact had nothing to declare. The guy (the officer) could see and comprehend what we were trying to say but he sternly pointed towards “Declare”. Such a contrast to the Australian airports. Over here in Aus you get the feeling they just want you to sod off, unless you are bringing in food, especially bananas or a dog, they just want you to get on with it. The other difference is that, other than in Australia all other airport officials have a thing about smiling. It is almost like if they smile or make eye contact somehow they might jeopardize the security system. But honestly I feel more safe in our airports than anywhere else. Pretty sure they catch all the real criminals, however they don’t feel the need to put the fear of god in every passenger for no reason. Every time I see that stern face I get the urge to tell “Just chill mate, just breath in and breath out”.
I had gone off the tangent once again. We slowly got through each section. I was alarmed when I realised that I was going to be finger printed. I had a choice, to argue that it was a violation of my privacy or just get on with it and enter China. Obviously I chose the latter. Losing all the money I had spent to come to China vs holding on to my rights, I realised holding on to one’s rights was so overrated. But on my return I heard from my son that he was finger printed in LA and Canada. I think it’s an argument/topic for another day.
Finally coming out to a sea of people at the arrival gate was such a relief. I skim through all the signs and posters from those who had come to pick up passengers and finally see the sign, “Wendy Wu Tours”.
WE ARE HERE, OUR HOLIDAY BEGINS.
Life kept throwing curve balls at us. I know we weren’t alone or privileged for these interruptions however, it can be pretty draining and you can tend to forget you are still the lucky one and there are many who are worse off. “Why me?” was certainly threatening to raise it’s ugly head.
We realised that we needed a re-charge and decided that a vacation was in order. I am always ready for travel, but uprooting the other half from work can be rather challenging. But this time he obliged. Anyway after much two and fro with travel dates and travel destinations, we finally made the selection – 14 Days tour of China.
The trip was booked months ahead. So we planned to lose weight and get fit as we had a fair bit of walking and climbing involved. Great plan but the follow through and execution went into negative figures. There were many valid reasons – it was a cold winter, we had to entertain people, we could always start next month, we just love food, yep like I said we had very valid reasons for not achieving our goal.
I also promised not to buy any more shoes but then again I realised, when you break one promise, breaking another is just that much easier. I am also a person who has a very strong sense of community. I believe that everything starts with that one person. I stop buying shoes -> shoe shop loses revenue -> shop assistant loses her job and it just keeps going. So yes, I soon realised that was a very irresponsible promise and for the good of the society and its running economy I discarded the idea of not buying shoes.
I was so glad that we were not preparing to do the Kokoda Track, else we would be in serious trouble. Finally the day gets closer and as per Mr Muphy’s Law all things that should not happen were happening and all things that should happen were not happening.
We were transiting through Hongkong and things were brewing between China and HongKong in the leading week but on the day we were flying out, to be exact 2 hours prior to us leaving for the airport, we get news that demonstrators have gone into the Hong Kong international airport and many flights had been cancelled.
After numerous calls to travel agent it was clear as mud that I was just overreacting. -one wondered and advised me that it was not necessary to panic, she also explained that they will keep me updated if things get worse. I realised a 9 hour flight directly to HongKong within the next 2 hours was nothing to worry about. Even if I was going to be mid air knowing I would get updates from my travel agent really made me relax.
Armed with all this information overload we left for the airport.
Emperor Ganesan and his loyal consort
Watch this space coming Soon “The Ganesan’s in the Orient”
A message pops up to say that it has been 3 years since I started to blog on wordpress. I haven’t written/blogged much in the recent times. I have missed writing so much. I have wanted to, but been afraid what might pour out.
I reflect, my website hasn’t changed much in the last 3 yrs. I should update my “about” page, I should work my menu tab. My website is almost a reflection of the house renovations that needs a revisit. Just like my house renovations, the website might have to wait too.
Looking back at the last 3 yrs of blogging/writing, I would like to think that I have grown as a writer, as an individual learning about the world and it’s citizens. Some quirky characters have followed my blog, and in the same way I found myself drawn to some blogs that were very out there by individuals I would have not come in contact normally.
I had a blogger who writes about Dante, who became a follower who commented on my measly writing/blog. He still time to time, pops up with a comment or two. I did ask him what he was doing in my nook and he responded that there are many Dante’s amongst us but not everyone gets the notoriety. Ooo… I felt six feet tall that day.
I found myself following an 19 year old Prisoner from somewhere in the USA. I don’t know what he is in for, but he should switch his weapon to a pen, it’s a pretty mighty one.
My favourite go-to blog has to be Rabbit Patch Diary. Written by a dear old soul. It’s a place I go to when I am troubled, a place where I go to when I need to just relax, it is definitely my little escape. https://rabbitpatchdiary.com/
In the last 3 yrs of blogging, I have poured my heart out and I have opened up some old wounds, I have been vocal about politics and politicians, I have been whimsical, I have been dark and I have taken you on my travels. It really has been a great nook for me explore, express and just chill.
Today I would like to leave you’ll with this song lyric by Bob Marley,
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright”
This song, these lyrics are speaking volumes to me today. We have to believe that life may have it’s twists and turns, but it will work out at the end. We need the sun and the rain. Usually one follows the other. The reality is, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Life’s cycle just keeps turning. Like night and day one follows the other. Even when we don’t want one or the other, it still keeps following one another. Even if the night was filled with nightmares, it will soon be morning.
So, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright”
Thank you to all those who read my blog and commented and encouraged. Thank you for all the support.
Just remember “its going to be alright” I shall remember that too.
After my last rant on my last blog, I have been reluctant to write. Afraid what might pour out. To a certain extent ashamed of my outburst. I have had my fair share of hurdles in the past to overcome and I am usually calm and collected and take it on my stride. I am usually someone who listens to logic. This time my behavior surprised me, almost scared me. It really troubled me not to be in control.
Every word, any word uttered by my husband annoyed me. He was giving me logical solutions. He couldn’t understand, that I was well aware of the logic, I was well aware of all the data, the probabilities, but I just couldn’t control my emotions. My brain kept going into a very negative nook.
My eldest living in another state and at that time my youngest in the UK didn’t help the situation. I didn’t want to discuss this with the youngest until he got back home. Which made my skype calls very strained. Each time he asked me the most common greeting/question “How are you? how are things?” I found it difficult to answer and I feared that he may sense the discomfort.
Hubby gradually understood that I didn’t need solutions and reminder of logic, I just needed a one way sounding board. The boys took the news much better than I expected. Even though I still feel guilty that I carry this mutated gene that I may have passed it on to them, they don’t feel that way. But I have accepted the fact the first step is for the boys to be tested – tested to see if they carry the gene. There is no point in worrying about the next stage until that. Next thing I have to vehemently tell myself is, the boys need me, I cannot drop the ball now.
My workaholic hubby made a booking for a weekend getaway to Cape Jervis and that really did help and hurry along the calming process. In my next blog I will talk about Cape Jervis and surrounds, it is indeed a magical part of South Australia.
My eldest is back from Sydney and today is the D-Day for the test. We took the boys to Willunga Hill yesterday to have lunch at ‘Our Place’
Beautiful drive, spectacular scenery, Food – simply divine, Andy – the chef and host – such a character. To be there as a family and enjoy all this was blissful. Even then at the back on my mind, I was worrying about the boys. The two get along so well, they are both just gorgeous boys, there was so much laughter and banter. I was forcing myself to have a good time too. I kept reminding myself that everyday is a blessing.
I guess it is normal for me to be jittery today. But I am not going to let my emotions get the better of me.
I am going to listen to hubby (for a change). Yes, he is right, we’ve never had it easy, but we have always submerged, maybe gasping for breath but always submerged and we have come out it. I may have to paddle a bit harder for this times rapid current. But I will keep paddling. It is all going to be alright at the end.
This blow has come out of left field. Not a complete KO, but it has definitely shaken up the ground below. I find myself in an unusual territory. Logic is refusing to stay put in my head. I keep pleading it to stay put, but unknown to me it keeps escaping leaving a stuffed dummy in its place.
Well, I know I am genetic mess. But, the realization that I could have passed on this mess to my kids seems very hard to swallow. No one is blaming me, especially my kids. But I wish they would just scream at me. Show me that they are angry for what I am going to put them through. But they joke and carry on like nothing.
It is probably going to be nothing. And I am worrying over nothing. Why am I being such a pessimistic heap of mess? I know the logic, let’s do the test and then worry if we have something to worry about. That would be the advice I would be giving someone else in that situation. I am no stranger to waiting for test results. It has never worried me, but this time I am a mess. I have to be strong for the boys. I will be. Just give me today to rant and rave.
I was supposed to be a miracle for my parents. When I survived the horrible cancer, once again it was considered a miracle. Yes, I could either be called “special”, “unique” or another apt word “weird”. I am a genetic error. This is not me blurting out in anger. That is the scientific word used in my report, I have a genetic error.
All I ask for is to leave my kids alone. I will go through anything, I am happy to say “Que sera sera” and deal with absolutely anything, I will endure anything, just leave my kids out of it.
To the man up there, just in case he doesn’t get it. A mother goes through nine months of pregnancy and then hours of horrid labour, she endures it all, so that her child will be born unharmed. From day one her model was built to protect that child. She was programmed to fight for her child no matter the size or might of the opponent. She has no turn off button.
So a word to the man up there, you are lower than a tadpole when you do this to a mother. Ask any mother, they will happily take the plague or worse, if that would save her child.
Final words to the man up there, “leave my kids alone” – PLEASE.
It has been a few months since my aunty’s 90th. A subject that keeps popping up lately but talking to a friend of mine today, who’s mum has now been diagnosed with Dementia the hardships she going through emotionally and physically made me ponder about this subject again. Years ago my son was involved in a play called the “Also a Mirror” by Sean Riley was based on residents from a Nursing Home primarily suffering from Dementia. When you come to know these residents, the recipients of this debilitating decease, you understand that each one of them have their own story. Each one of them a special character. Time to time that individual spunk pops out, refusing to give into the haze of confusion. But for the family and loved ones who have seen them as larger than life and now to see them belittled by such a blow is a hard pill to swallow.
My aunt had seven kids and she managed the whole show. My uncle was mostly at sea, he was in the merchant marine, a Chief Engineer. While he was away, she single handedly managed the house, the kids and the million guests who arrived daily from all parts of the country for short stays. She was a tough woman with a soft heart. Thanks to the power of nagging and care all her seven kids are now successful individuals. Who have now followed in the footsteps of my Grand Father and have gone forth and multiplied. I maybe corrected with my numbers, but I believe my aunt now has Twenty something Great Grand kids and counting.
My dad was the youngest of eight kids and the first to depart. My aunt loved him very much and missed him very much. This grand woman turned 90 in December and my cousin and his wife held a big party. Almost the entire clan was here from all nooks of the world.
I was out of ideas for a gift for a woman who had everything and didn’t need anything. Finally, I decided to write something for her. Sharing it today for my friend and anyone else who have to go through this with one of their favourites.
Mami – Baby Mami (mami is aunty) – that’s what I have always called you. I am your brother Rasam’s daughter Uma.
You look into my eyes and wonder who I am. It pains you not to remember.
You want to remember me but memories fail you. Don’t feel bad mami. You have lived a life – a whole life – filled with many faces and many hearts. So, it’s not easy to remember them all.
Memories have a habit of giving up on us time to time. When I was fifteen, I didn’t remember what I did when I was two. But you reminded me that my dad called me “Nari and nangal” (made pet names by my dad), you reminded me the drama he caused trying to name me. You reminded me that he loved me very much. And, you reminded me that you loved your brother and missed your brother just the way I did.
Even though you have retold the stories of my two year old days many a times, it is still buried memories for me. But I loved hearing those stories and for that I thank you.
Now that you are ninety, it’s my turn to jog your memories. I understand those memories aren’t going to rush back. It’s okay, for each of us, it is a tale that we enjoyed telling the other. We just needed each other to share and reminisce, that story. It’s not important that the other remembers that story or not.
So let me introduce myself –
I am your youngest brother – one of the twins – Rasam’s daughter – only daughter. My mum is Pathini. My dad passed away at the age of 53. He left a massive hole in all our hearts. You loved him very much and missed him very much. The only thing you could do was to love me and that you did. You did the same for my mum too. Thank you mami, for being there for us at our time of need.
You gave birth to seven beautiful children, and they loved us and supported us too. You brought them up well mami. You can be, one proud mother.
Now, I am married and have two boys. I married Customs Nada’s son Ganesh. He too has many memories of you and your family. Once again it’s another face that you may not remember but nonetheless another heart that you have touched.
So mami it’s not necessary for you to remember us all.
Just remember that you have loved many.
And you are loved by all.