3rd Entry: 8 Days in Shanghai

I mentioned earlier that the hotel room had a wide window ledge that I made use of. I referred to it as the ‘perch’.  With an eighteen story view and a window pushed outward at the bottom to let in the air and sounds, I meditated there. I wrote there. I pondered things in my heart there. Here are some of my noticings and ponderings from the perch:

  • for the first four days from my perch I did not see a single bird of any kind anywhere…no pigeons, no seagulls, no sparrows, no crows. On the 5th day, 6 pigeons flew by, two stories below me, at 9:14am. They were in a hurry.
  • there has not been one police siren, ambulance wail or fire truck horn, day or night in 5 days. And I’ve been listening for them. I’m either in the wrong place at the wrong time to hear them or this city is like none other for first responders.
  • there are lots of car horns during the day. Very few after 10pm until around 6am.
  • On my walks and from my perch I have yet to hear a single car blasting music into the cosmos. No thumping base beats, no sing alongs at the top of lungs, no techno rhythms accompanying lane changes.
  • For that matter, I have not seen one tricked out ride (car)…no custom suspensions, no styling hub caps, no fat tires, no bling a ling hanging from the rearview mirror, no jacked up mufflers (no loud, broken exhaust systems either). Cars are just cars. They’ve not morphed into forms of self-expression…yet.
  • The package we have with the hotel includes the breakfast buffet. While my wife gets ready for work, I go down for coffee and to people watch. It’s fascinating and instructive. From about 7:30 to 8:15 each morning, the place is a madhouse scramble.  As if on cue, one elevator full of guests after another come quickly past the hostesses in search for space and sustenance. The buffet itself is overwhelmed. This is not your typical restaurant ‘rush’. This is a full on crush. Restocking can barely keep pace and, at times, does not. Every available seat is utilized with no regard for introductions or permission. I had people join me at my table without so much as a glance hello or goodbye. And it never felt rude. It was more that, if they had asked (assuming I spoke a word of the language), of course I would have said yes and, when they left, they presumed their gratitude would be implied. They simply had dispensed with the non-essentials. No offense intended and no offense taken.
  • It’s like this on the streets as well…people everywhere…multiple, non-stop mopeds skirting traffic and ignoring signals, cars, trucks, taxis, busses, trolleys and, then, the foot traffic….all making their own way–improvising constantly, honking repeatedly but not taking anything personally–no one is staking any claim or prerogative…”just keep moving” was/is the whole cooperative effort. Everyone accepts that everyone else has somewhere to go, something to do, and they all simply go in a no-nonsense, flexible, adjusting elements of a flow…like water around rocks. Whether this is a form of abject resignation or a form of a higher, collective consciousness is not for me to say. What I can say is that it beats some of the silly blustering outbursts that our sidewalks seem to create.
  • Traffic lights (signals) have countdowns to green on them. Countdowns to red too. Fifteen seconds of advance notice to the change coming. It seems to keep drivers from the anxiety of wondering when their turn is coming. It seems to be a very effective method of controlling the not knowing.
  • I understand that things aren’t always as they seem though.

 

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