Nooks and Crannies

Shanghai is a city with squirrelly little lanes everywhere. Step down one of those lanes and you have no idea you might see. Just down the street from us is one of those “model unit” type housing compounds–brick apartments branching out from a main roadway like a rabbit’s den. This is an especially interesting one because it is filled with entreprenuers who have started businesses in their homes selling shoes, clothes, and sundries or serving coffee and lunch.

They’re all illegal.

The compound hasn’t been zoned for commercial businesses, so, as soon as they hear that the cops are coming the signs vanish inside, the customers are shooed out and the doors to the gates are closed–doors that have the name of the business on the inside, not the outside.

Here’s one little coffee shop–the moose crossing sign is a mystery.

We were drawn down this lane by the massive plant blooming at the end.

On closer inspection we discovered it was a squash plant! It had grown so prolifically that it had vined it’s way through a small tree planted on the balcony

Cool old suitcase–the stories it could tell

The Chinese love their birds. That blur you see is a particularly talented one doing backward flips in it’s cage!

Out on the street we came across the Chinese version of the “Fuller Brush Man”. He was selling brightly colored brooms, the cloth mops everyone is so fond of here, as well as bamboo brooms.

It was a beautiful day on Sunday so we continued our outing to Jing An park which is down by Mark’s office. As is typical in Chinese parks, there was a group dancing. We were lucky enough to secure a park bench across from them and sat for quite some listening to the soothing music.

Usually people are waltzing in the park, but this was an interesting combination of appeared to be Tai Chi, ballet, and belly dancing!

The women were super flexible. The lady in pink could bend even farther back than this woman!

This couple was having a very long intense conversation. I think the man looks like a good listener, don’t you?

do you bet the woman in black kept herself parked there because she was listening in on the conversation? I would have been! Note the tea with the leaves floating around loose that she’s holding, a favorite way to have tea here. I don’t understand a) how the tea doesn’t become unbearably bitter when the tea leaves aren’t removed and b) how they can stand filtering out the tea leaves with their teeth every they take a drink.

This man playing the harmonica could drown out the dance music from to . Looking closer now, it appears he has a mic or amplifier attached to it.

Another happy wedding party getting their pictures taken in the park.

“Didn’t I tell you the Japanese were no good”

The Chinese are quite upset about Japan’s purchase of those islands. So much so that the government provided transportation and lunch(!) for people to go to the Japanese Consolate in Gubei and demonstrate!

Down one little alley we came across a museum in one of Mao’s three residences in Jing An where he stayed when he came to Shanghai. This is a statue of him (sorry for the no-head picture) very reminiscent of pictures you see of Jesus, with small children at his feet looking up adoringly at him.

These are our 2 tour guides, who are students in International Relations in a local university. From them we learned that Mao loved his two sons (not true–he totally ignored them, mistreated their mother, and sent them away–they couldn’t stand him), and that he was very polite. A picture showing him shaking hands with his left hand to accomodate the other person who had a bad arm solicited this little gem–I’m sure all the people he sent to prison, or worse, felt much better about it knowing that the man responsible was polite.

Some of the exterior wall at Plaza 66, next door to our apartment, that has been under construction since Mark came in May 2011, has finally been revealed. This fabulous display window by Louis Vuitton is a real show stopper. There is a continuos film of outdoor scenes running behind the train window to make it appear that they are in motion.

The shoes are quite something, aren’t they? Good thing they get to sit down!

In front of the mall by Mark’s office, the L’Occitane mime was handing out flowers! (That’s my hand.)

And so ended a lovely afternoon stroll in Shanghai. I’ll leave you with our first mail envelope that Kelly has sent us.

I love the spiders.

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About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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