Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fourth of July and the Black Cafe in Shanghai

ed. note: Mercedes is having some technical difficulties posting from China, so I've posted her lastest entry for her...

This is my fourth week in Shanghai, and it’s crazy to think that I’ve been here for almost a month now. I can now recognize most of the roads, so now I can tell when a taxi is trying to rip me off by going the long route. My daily Chinese vocabulary has improved as well, allowing me to direct the taxis to my hotel. I now no longer have to get out two blocks away and walk because they couldn’t find the location. What great strides I’ve made!

Work also picked up at the office this week as Michael ’10 and I had to give our presentation on how the economic/fiscal policies of McCain and Obama will affect the economy. Our bosses on the investment team, Tsz Long (affectionately called TL because his name is a bit hard to pronounce) and Matt, upped the ante last week when they told us the CEO, Andy, would be attending our presentation as well. This knowledge, as well as a terrible penchant for procrastination we both share, drove us to spend long hours of our precious weekend in the office. It was especially hard to be in the office last weekend because both days were blue-sky days in Shanghai. These are an extreme rarity as “Shanghai Skies” is the name given to Shanghai’s year-round gray skies. How rare? Our second week here I asked one of my co-workers at CUAM how often there are blue skies. “Blue skies….? I don’t know about those.” was his reply.

Nonetheless, Michael and I ended up giving our presentation on Tuesday in front of the investment team and a few others from the office who wanted to stop by and see what some of the “Harvard Interns” were presenting. Andy ended up leaving 3 minutes into the presentation when he received a phone call. So much for spending our weekend in the office to impress the CEO!

With less work at the office (for now) I can spend my evenings relaxing a bit more. Last night I went to a very interesting restaurant called Black Café. You eat your meal in pitch black and are served by blind waiters. On the first floor, the “Visual Zone,” you’re made to leave any belongings that produce light (cell phone, camera) in a locker before you head upstairs. I went with Bret ’11 and I had to hold onto his shoulder while he held onto the waiter’s to walk into the dining room. Finding our food was a bit difficult but it actually was a nice experience. It’s a lot easier to concentrate on what another person is saying when you’re not distracted looking around. It did make me feel a bit inhibited though. I realized when I wanted to stand up during dinner and go to the washroom that I could not do it. Instead I just had to finish out the rest of the meal. The owners say part of their mission is to raise awareness about the plight of the blind. I don’t think that mission was quite accomplished. It was not impressed upon me that I was blind, but rather I knew this was a one-time experience I would soon leave in 45 minutes. However I was very impressed with how our waiter completely avoided banging my plate into my wine glass which I kept moving around.

I am going to have another interesting experience today as it is the 4th of July in Shanghai! Last summer I spent the 4th of July in Madrid at TGIFriday’s. This year I will be spending it at Malone’s, an American café, and eating my first burger since arriving in China a month ago! Happy 4th of July everyone!