When I left Shanghai for the US I was all on my own. I met new friends, got a new community, had a new life style and embraced a different culture. Everything was fresh. By the end the second year, I already see Berkeley as my second home.
Now I am back, to my real home, where my family is, where I grew up, where I spent 18 years of my life.
As the plane slowly descended through the clouds towards Shanghai Pudong Airport, the city revealed itself to me once again. It was cloudy and hazy as it always had been. The humid warm and stiff air immediately reminded me of the old days; the smell of gasoline and cigarettle filled my nostrils, people chatted loudly. Unlike what I expected, I did not have that homecoming feeling.
The climate was very different. Unlike Berkeley or San Francisco, the sky was kind of gray. I was not quite sure what caused the gray sky, was it really air pollution? Or maybe Shanghai was just so humid that fog simply would not go away.
Shanghai, in my memory always has that grayish tint. This photo I took yesterday is probably the best representation of this city. Highrises are everywhere; ordinary people from all walks of life hurrying towards different directions. Shanghai is somewhat chaotic, and in the chaos, energy.
Shanghai is famous for its moody bourgeois nightlife, and Xintiandi is especially so. Xintiandi has beautiful traditional Shanghai Shikumen (Stone Gates) and it manifested the elegance of Shanghainese.
There was one girl that I felt in love with irrepressible passion. By accident, I found the place she worked yesterday, in Xintiandi — SHAOO Paris. She was an practitioner of Shanghainese’s elegance. When I was still in relationship with her, she once told me, “An old Shanghainese might be poor, but their home must be clean; their shirt would not have a single wrinkle; and their shoes must be polished. It is an attitude of life.” So I guess it is not a surprise to find her having worked here after all.
I didn’t want to leave Xintiandi without having a drink. On impulse I took my friend to a bar called Dr. Bar. It’s service is just ok, but I loved its music, setting, and decoration. We had a great time there. We haven’t met since I left, and it has been a long time. We sit together, and I listen to her, telling her love encounters. Story, candles, music, and wine.
Candles probably has magic in the night. The candles’ shimmering light illuminated her face just right. The warmth of the candle and the smell of burning candle spreaded a certain atmosphere in the air. Alcohol gave the last touch. I had Johnny Walker Blue; for her, a peach-flavor cocktail. The taste of Johnny Walker was strong but not quite intrusive, cold yet warm in the throat. I was not quite sure was it the wine or jet-lag, but I was a little dizzy.