Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Moca, The Rosa, and the Nib

Brian Yin is back in Shanghai! Brian is a local Shanghainese friend of mine, studying at the University at Buffalo. He is also a Newly Inducted Brother of Delta Sigma Pi, and boy am I glad to see him! So after synagogue on Friday night, we hear about this party on the top floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art. I meet up with Brian in People’s Square and we head on over with a few other friends. It was pretty sweet, I guess exactly what you would expect a party at the top of an art museum to be like. Toby, you would have liked this one…

Anyway, we decide quickly that it’s too loud so me and Brian (sporting his shiny new traditional black DSP shirt) head on out to a bar called Barbarosa where it’s A LITTLE quieter so we can sit and talk. Everything’s cheaper in China, except the bars. Beers were like over $7 a pop, and that’s the cheapest drink. After the drinks, on our way home, we stop at this Chinese place for dinner. I let Brian do the ordering cuz it’s still very hard for me to order in Chinese. He asks “do you like shrimp?”

“Of course I like shrimp”

“How about raw shrimp?”

“Def not.”

Magic words: “It’s just like sushi”

That’s all he had to say. So the dish comes out, and they uncap it. The fucking things are swimming around in the bowl! I’m like, “Holy shit dude! You said raw, not ALIVE!”

He then says, “Oh, you want to wait until they’re dead?”

Apparently they were soaked in alcohol and were slowly dying. Consumer has the option of waiting till they slowly die, or putting them out of their misery. We had to recap the dish, cuz they were jumping out of the bowl and squirming around on the table. I actually jumped outta my chair and stood back like a little girl who sees a spider. Unfortunately, I wussed out and did not partake, but had a hell of a time watching Brian do it up. He apologized for scaring me and I said, no problem. It’s times like this that make the adventures more adventurous. He then says, “hey at least now you have something to write about in your blog…”

Brian, if you’re reading this, It’s gonna be a crazy month! Jonny Chan of the Rhos (f’sho!), Rachel Ooyang of the Sigmas, and J Klock of the Taus are also going to be in Shanghai real soon. Like I said, it’s gonna be a crazy month. It’s the AK Movement!

Big Brother is Always Watching

I would like to start out by publically announcing that CHRIS PASCONE STILL HAS NOT READ George Orwell’s 1984. Dude it’s like 150 pages! It’ll take you an afternoon if you’re not an idiot! So anyway, it’s funny how Americans have this view of communism (largely based off this book and McCarthyism). Everywhere I go, I see video cameras. In like every hall in every building. This ordinarily wouldn’t be such a big deal for me, but the scary thing is that I have yet to see a monitor.

At around 4 o’clock every day, speakers (which are laid out all around campus) start blasting. I don’t really know what they are saying cuz it’s usually just a woman speaking Chinese that I still don’t understand. Some friends of mine said that it’s like the news either concerning Shanghai, China or our school, but when I’m alone, all I hear is “Our troops are pushing forward on the Eurasian front. The price of Chocolate has dropped 50% to $100 a kilogram. This month’s quota for steel workers…”

The “Gabe” Burger

There’s this restaurant right around the corner called Sarah’s. I’m a big fan because it has relatively cheap relatively good tasting “western” food. There are sandwiches and stuff. I go there a lot cuz it’s a 3 minute walk from my dorm room. They are the most “catering to Westerners” restaurant in the area with the exception of McDonalds down the road. Their menu has every item translated into English. The problem is, like most English everywhere in Shanghai, it’s all wrong. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but I go there enough to justify the next paragraph.

One day I asked the owner of the restaurant (Sarah) if she wants me to correct their menu for them. Of course she did so we sat down and had like 3 meetings where me and her and Howie discussed how to word the menu items in a more sexy-like manor. Like “fruit salad over watermelon with a hint of house red” and such. I didn’t ask them to pay me. I just wanted them to have a correct menu. Oh and we also asked them to name some dishes after us.

So now if you ever go to Shanghai, stop into Sarah’s CafĂ© and be sure to get the “Gabe Burger” or “Howie’s Bacon and Egg Bun.” They’re both really quite delicious!

Lost in Translation 2

A lot of times I go to the DVD store to buy $1 DVD’s and read the back to see what the movie is about. It’s usually in Chinese and sometimes if I’m lucky, it’s in English. However, even then, it’s usually wrong or the excerpt to the wrong movie. There was a movie with DMX I think called Jumpout Boys. The back, instead of saying anything about the movie, was just the Wikipedia definition of “Jumpout boys.”

Here’s my favorite. On the back of this one movie, instead of telling you what the movie was about, it was cut and pasted from someone’s review of the movie online. But the best part is that it was a SHIT review! It was like “Wow, I thought that because so and so was in this movie, that it would be interesting. Boy was I wrong! Do yourself a favor, don’t even consider wasting two hours of your life watching this movie. It would be a better idea for you to go to the director’s house and shoot him in the face.” It was like 3 paragraphs of this dude railing on this movie about how bad it was. I was like “I guess it’s a good thing that the people who run this DVD store can’t read English.”

Unrelated note: My allergies are acting up with the changing weather. This Thai girl gave me this little inhaler that goes up your nostril and smells like Eucalyptus or something. It’s very refreshing. It’s called “Poi-san.” I imagine that means something different in Thai (At least I effing hope so).

More Interesting Foods

So me Ayumi, and GI Joe go to this restaurant, and I order Pig’s tongue. It was not half bad. Kinda like what it tastes like when you bite down on your tongue really hard. BTW I don’t call Ben GI Joe anymore, but it sounds fun for the sake of the blog.

I went with Les and Monique to a Taiwanese restaurant and among many delicious interesting food was again curdled blood. But this time it was mixed in with rice and other stuff to make like a cake. It tasted kinda like Haggis, which is amazing, but I’d be careful as to where you get it from.

Last weekend, we ate out and, this dish came that looked like fish. I am not a huge fish fan so I stayed away. Diego was like “no try it. It’s actually really good.” So I’m eating it and what do you know. It’s not too bad.

“What kind of Fish is this? It has a pretty hard skin. It’s almost like a shell.” I say.

“A Fish called Turtle! Ah Hah!” he says.

At first, I was like WTF! Why would you do that to me!? Then I was like actually that’s not bad, and helped myself to anther portion.

I have yet to try the already fertilized chicken egg.

CInco de Drunko

Cinco de Mayo is not a commonly celebrated holiday here in China. However, there are enough westerners that the interests are catered to. Kind of like Saint Sylvesters day in Israel (New Years Eve). On May 5th, it was my friend Justin’s birthday. He’s from America. He works for this CEO of a huge LED company. LED stands for Light Emitted Diode, and is the latest in light technology. They’re the little indicator lights in your car, or on your iPod. This guy’s company makes “Open” signs, Televisions, room lights, street lights, street signs that tell drivers about traffic patterns, and other stuff. Justin doesn’t work at the company. He is the guy’s private English teacher. So we got a tour of his company to see how they make the lights, and then I’m not really sure why, but the guy drove us to his new house to show that off too.

That night, we went to Taco Paco or something and had Mexican cuisine. After, we went to a bar called Zapatas, and got shitfaced. Always a good time. I like Zapatas. I forgot most of my Spanish, but I think that means women’s shoes? Monique tells me that it won an award in some Shanghai nightlife magazine for “best bar to pick up drunk women.” Ladies night is Monday and Wednesday (bam son!). They actually have a guys night as well! WTF! I love this country. The “night” is only an hour long and we get free beer the whole time, but I surprised myself as to how much free beer I can drink in an hour. Viva la Mexico!

When in Shanghai…

So I try to use the “When in Rome” philosophy” as much as possible to maximize my experience here. However, the more I try to fit in, the more I stand out. In New York, there is a stigma attached to being a tourist. In Shanghai, it’s so popular, it’s almost a status symbol. There are places that I have found here that only Westerners go to. Many of the local Shanghainese people I’ve met don’t even know about them.

There’s also many Shanghai customs that I am trying to stay away from, like hocking up big wads of whatever and spitting in the street. I think I may have been spat on once. It might have just been bird poop. Either way, it was gross. Lines are also practically nonexistent. People cut in front of me all the time. I asked my friend Diego from Italy if they have a saying in any way similar to that in Italian. He said, yes but it’s a little different. In Italy, they say, “When in Rome, DON’T do what the Romans do.” For real.