Shoeshine, mister?

In our last episode, the city of Shanghai (or its pigeons at least) was being terrorized by a diminutive monster in a brown dress. Will the birds survive? Who will come to their rescue? Moving right along, there is the Shanghai Grand Theatre.
Which is just down the street from the Marriott Centre.
Which is one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen.
Please excuse my obsession. It just looks cool from almost every angle.
Like other parks here, this one has its rules posted at the entrances, though I didn’t notice until I’d stepped out and came back in a different way.
There’s a lovely pond, and down at one end they’ve got masses of lotus (or should it be loti?).
Along a little path from the lotus pond is the Museum of Contemporary Art. You figure this one out.
An old man was walking by when I took this picture, and he looked curious at the way I was holding the camera so close to the flowers. I put the camera in review mode and showed him the screen. He nodded (in appreciation I hope) and smiled.
I’ve seen motorcycles lined up outside bars, but this is a new one. Three-wheeled motorized vehicles are fairly common in China, and I’m not even sure what the best English word for them would be. What do you suppose they are gathered for?
I’d say these guys get together pretty often.

Just after I took that picture, a Chinese man approached me and started speaking to me in English. I’ve gotten pretty cynical about this kind of thing – usually they end up asking you to go to an art show or buy a watch or see the girls available for massages. (I did get a new one in People’s Square, though. A guy walked by quickly, saying, “Hashish? Hashish?”) It ended up being a very odd conversation. He started by saying he thought I must have a good eye for taking pictures. I was thinking he was going to tell me I was being rude by taking a picture of the card players, but he really seemed to be complimenting me on my choice of subjects. I said I liked to catch scenes of everyday life, so people in America could see how much they have in common with people far away. He said he was a translator for a garment company in town.
Like I said, he didn’t seem to have any ulterior motives, but he was so tenacious with following me and talking that I eventually made an excuse and started hurried away. But not before catching the Marriott tower from another angle. My clothes-translation friend asked me if I thought it looked like a rocket ship. And as inclined to like rocket ships as I am, I said it looked like a quartz crystal to me.
There are public restrooms all over Beijing, but none of them is made of marble or has large planters outside. Or a lobby.

Just after I snapped that one, I was assaulted by a shoeshine. Before I could get out of his way, he had slapped some goop onto my shoe and started buffing it with a cloth. I kept saying no and stepping away, but he wouldn’t stop. Come to think of it, I remember an almost identical thing happened to me once in Chicago, so it’s not a Chinese thing. Anyway, I ended up nearly kicking him in the face and walking off. He called after me for payment for the half shine. The goop is still on my shoe.
After a brief stop at my hotel, I headed back to Nanjing Street for dinner. That’s what it looks like lit up.
While I was waiting for my friend to show up, in between the Rolex salesmen and massage touts, a noisy motorcycle pulled up onto the sidewalk outside the subway station entrance. He was nice enough to pose for me, and liked the picture when I showed it to him.
And here’s the Coke bottle all lit up.

After that, it was back to the hotel. I was followed about halfway there by a couple of girls who started out wanting to practice their English, then to have some coffee or tea, then to help me find a good massage. My Blueberry had been buzzing off and on all day, so I knew the Olympics were in danger of delay if not outright cancellation unless I performed some emergency remote programming. I ended up logging on and working until midnight. Which was no fun since I would have to get up pretty early in the morning to catch my flight, considering how far the airport is from the center of town.

Will fatigue overcome our hero? Will he miss his plane to Japan? Will he ever get a break from work? What ever happened to the pigeons? These questions (some of them at least) and more will be answered in our next episode.


  1. I just bought a copy of Roma Eterna and started it last night, so say hi to RS for me if it's not too late. And happy b-day in a few days!

  2. Out of curiosity, I checked some resources to find out more about "lotus" and "loti". There doesn't seem to be any strict rules that can be applied in this case. "Fungus" does change into "Fungi" as it grows, which is mostly because the word's from Latin, thus the rule. "Lotus" is from Greek, via Latin, into English. I wonder how long this word had been used before the Romans collapsed. The word "lotus" may not have been localized too well by then. "Loti" is definitely not wrong, actually is "over-correct". That car manufacturer did seem to like the Romans more. :)