The Buddha continues to smile.
The Lion finally figured out how to smile.
The Lion had a wonderful time in Shanghai, one of the most modern cities in China.
The Lion touched down on Shanghai early in the evening on the 16th of November.
The Lion shall stop calling himself the Lion now.
Carrying only baggage and no expectations, I breezed through the Shanghai traffic in 1.5 hours to finally reach my hotel, J W Marriott at Tomorrow’s Square.
Tomorrow’s Square – quite an interesting name for a place.
Quite prophetic too, since tomorrow I was going to be squared at the event that I was here to attend.
Took a walk on Nanjing Road (E) which is a very long road indeed.
Met a Japanese shop owner who helped us out by providing us with international calling cards. I didn’t understand Mandarin, and he didn’t understand English.
We got along really well owing to the fact that very little other than necessary was “spoken”. Sign language is a wonderful means of communication. It prevents a million misunderstandings which come free with any vocal language.
After making my first friend in China, I headed back to the hotel for an evening with CNN. (America touches every shore in the world. Doesn’t matter whether that shore really wants America or not).
The next day was going to be tiring since we had a lot of presentations to be done.
The next day was indeed tiring for the same reason as stated above.
The next day also brought with it a wonderful boat cruise on the Huang Pu river.
The Huang Pu river cuts across the centre of Shanghai. The banks of this river hold magnificent and imposing buildings, with their own dazzling neon lights.
The cruise started at around 6 in the evening.
I stood on the deck of the boat, the wind blowing into my face. The announcement over the speakers stated that the temperature was 12 degree centigrade. I believed that.
By now, two glasses of champagne had somehow made their way into my stomach.
I wanted to just walk back inside but could hardly keep a leg steady.
Anyway, went back, stumbled on the stairs (thankfully didn’t fall).
Got back and whoa, another glass of champagne had found its destination within me!
I also had some good company on the deck, so by the time the cruise came to a halt, I had downed around ten glasses of champagne.
I finally felt extremely agile and steady.
About the cruise, well, there were casinos, karaoke bars, dance floors and one live band playing scintillating jazz music.
Everything looked nice, trim and elegant. Everything looked funny too, thanks to the spirit within me (The alcoholic spirit that is).
Reached my hotel at 12 in the night. Felt good all night since I slept as soon as I touched bed.
The next day we set out on our own, moving around with a lot of sign language and an equal amount of smiles.
Visited a few Buddhist temples, witnessed their ways of worshipping which are very much similar to the Hindu ways of worshipping.
Also went around the huge shopping malls of China. You get everything in China. By everything, I mean every little thing.
Right from pirated DVDs (for as low as Rs. 30 each) to clothing by Gucci, Versace and the likes. I also saw dried lizards being sold in bunches at one of the weird supermarkets.
Crabs tied with ribbons around them and stored in the refrigerators were another attraction added for free in our own short sight-seeing trip.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai is the highest tower in Asia. (I don’t know what happened to the Petronas towers in Malaysia! I thought they were the tallest).
Anyway, I tended to believe whatever the Chinese people said at that time. So, off we went climbing to the top of this tower (using an elevator of course).
The view from the top of this tower was supposed to be breathtaking. For some strange reason, I didn’t find it anything like that. I mean, looking at an entire city from some top spot should give you a kick? I don’t think so.
So, took the elevator back again to the bottom of this tower. That too wasn’t breathtaking.
I forgot to mention, I purchased a lot of DVDs. I am sorry to have betrayed the movie industry. Big deal. The industry isn’t doing all that good anyway, so why support it?
I got Memento! That movie rocks.
We also made our way through the underground rail network of Shanghai. This was one of our tougher challenges cos it took us ages to figure out how the routes are connected by this rail network.
We finally made it to People’s Square – a commercial hub of Shanghai. There was a theatre festival going on at the Shanghai Grand Theatre. Pity that all the plays were in Chinese.
After having sprained my leg at one of the Buddhist temples, I walked around with a limp all over Shanghai. Commuting via taxis used to be my intermediate pain killer.
Also had food at an Indian restaurant out there. I vowed that I would never eat tandoori roti in my life again.
Burger King rocks. So does their Chicken Whopper and Fries.
After these two days of whirlwind sight-seeing, we finally took our flight back to Singapore.
The air journeys were the most boring parts of my entire trip.
In Singapore, I took a 2 hour Singapore tour organised by Singapore Airlines. We went to Sentosa Island, checked out that place and got back.
From there, it was back to good old Bangalore. When I was in Shanghai, specifically at the J W Marriott, I didn’t feel like getting back to India. But then, at the end of the second day, I had got bored of that place.
Landed in Bangalore on the 20th and it took about 300 years for my baggage to arrive. My bag arrived last. I was the only one standing there with an empty trolley in hand and a lot of anticipation in mind.
I was so glad to see my bag coming out last on the conveyor belt that I almost picked it and kissed it. Glad since it was holding my DVDs.
Then I headed towards the customs. I prayed to every available and listening god to ensure that I don’t get marked as a DVD smuggler. Thankfully there was one god who probably was available and listened.
Returned home and crashed out by 2:00 am.
The Lion has returned to his den.