In the recovery from jet leg though, and my brief vomiting episode from taking cold medicine that I am allergic to the meeting with Paul slipped from my mind until we had one day left.
He was heading home for a visit and us Li’s were bound for Luoyang. But one sunny Sunday allowed a meeting at Costa Coffee.
Before meeting Paul we had some Li family fun.
First we walked down the “Bund” a famous street along the river.
I felt sad when we rested in a beautiful park. My Chinese Mama told us of a sign that once stood at the entrance of the park before the current political party took over. This park is for foreigners it said, no Chinese dogs allowed.
That shifted my understanding of history. There is always more to the story.
At the Fairmont “Peace Hotel” we heard about the oldest Jazz band in Shanghai. One of the players in his 90s. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hear them. On the bucket list for next time!
We arrived at Costa coffee, sweaty and invigorated. I eagerly began photo editing until I heard Forest’s voice, “hi, are you Paul?”
Apart from his Canadian height and colour Paul was a genuine local. While I got Forest to translate my order this relative of mine blitzed out his request in perfect Mandarin. (He would probably disagree with me but it sounded good!)
As we sat down at the table and began a Mandarin/Shanghainese/English conversation, with a good dose of laughter all around, I was filled with hope. Maybe this could be me one day chiming those Chinese tones like an expert.
When I asked him for language advice Paul said, “watch Peppa Pig in Chinese”. Hmm, Callie loves that show. Maybe she wouldn’t notice or mind if I changed the language on her.
“You know,” Paul said, “a lot of people live in Shanghai and get away with not speaking Chinese, other than Ni hao and tai gui le (too expensive)”.
I thought about the hard work of stretching my brain. It would be so easy to just rely on Forest and sign language.
Then I remembered the park sign and I remembered the delight on people’s faces whenever I blurt out the few Mandarin words. Honour is worth the effort.
中国很美丽和中国人也很美丽。(I’ll let you translate this 😉)