Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stories

Robert left early in the morning. Jen and I had promised to visit my aunt one last time. I had offered to bring vegetable buns but she insisted we come for boiled potstickers, which she said were cleaner as they were packaged neatly in a colorful bag.


This 90 year old woman had prepared soup for us, not a bit bothered by the warm temperature and humidity. I stood in her tiny kitchen, preparing the potstickers and watched as the thunder and lightning led to pouring rain. "It is rain that keeps company around," she stated happily. She told us story after story as we ate, and I observed Jen's discretely placed tape recorder on the table. She greatly enjoyed our photography session, wanting to see how she looked in each picture on the back of my digital camera. Finally, it was time for us to leave. We carried books she had pulled off the shelves for us to take back, and little "treasured" things she had gathered for us. We were not allowed to hail a cab at the streetcorner, "Too unsafe", she admonished, and called a taxi for us. Nothing could stop her from walking us down the hall to the elevator with her walker and telling us not to use the elevator on the left because the door sometimes doesn't open, and getting a last glimpse of us as the elevator doors closed.

Our last night in Shanghai, too hot and tired to wander far, we took a cab to Shintiandi, the new nightclub/restaurant area for dinner. We sat at a long shared table and enjoyed steamed dumplings and soup noodles. The young people next to us were clearly Chinese Americans and we chuckled to hear their Chinglish, and conversations about their experiences in China. I wondered if our Chinese sounded like that as well. It was a perfect way to end a fruitful trip to China.

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