Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sad Stories

I have two Shanghai stories to tell.

Story 1: Last week I was meeting a friend for lunch over in Pudong, which is on the other side of Shanghai. I was walking across the road from the subway to the mall. It is a very touristy area because the Pearl Tower is there, and for some reason, lots of people like to see that (I am not sure why!). I had my head phones on, but was not listening to music because I was texting my friend to let her know I was going to be there soon. I sensed that someone was standing really close to me, so I looked over and caught a woman with her hand inside my purse! This was really shocking to all the places I have been I have never been pickpocketed, or even saw someone trying! Luckily, my purse had two pockets, and the pocket she was looking in was empty. Thank goodness, because the other pocket had all of the money to pay for one year at my yoga studio. I would have been really sad if that was stolen.

So, I saw her hand in my purse and I gasped and moved to the side, still staring at them. The woman had a baby strapped to the front of her chest in one of those baby carriers (not sure what they are called), and she was with two other women with babies on their chests. It took me a moment to process don't think of mothers with babies as thieves....especially a pack of 3 women with three babies. I guess that is the point of bringing three babies along? So, I stared at them in disbelief, and they looked at me and then turned around and walked the other way. I didn't do I was walking away and realizing what had happened, my adrenalin started pumping. Matt said I should've punched them, but I was in shock, and anyway, I feel more bad for them than anything....they are forced to try to pick people's pockets because they are poor. I don't think they are evil. They weren't Han Chinese, I am pretty sure they were Uighurs (the people from Western China). I hate to say they were Uighurs though, because there is such a stereotype here about Uighurs being thieves. But I guess these ones were!

I realize they are trying to take care of their babies by getting money for them, but I think they were putting them in danger....someone else besides me might have grabbed them or hit them, and the babies were on the womens' the babies would get hurt first.

Story 2:

I was on the subway at night by was around 9 pm and I was going home. I looked at a woman behind me with her baby. I smiled, because the baby was adorable. Then the woman comes up to me and starts begging. I was sort of shocked because I didn't realize she was a beggar, so I sort of gasped and turned my back on them. As soon as I did that, I felt terrible....I not only didn't give money, but I also probably made her feel like a freak by turning my back so quickly and harshly. Then, I got off the train, and she got off the train with her baby. I thought, "Ok, now I can give some money", but before I could catch her she disappeared behind the construction barriers. Our subway stop is under construction because they are putting in a new subway line, and there are tons of migrant construction workers (all men) around. I really felt sick was night, she had no place to stay, and I didn't even give her a few kuai. And now, she was going into the migrant worker area? I hope her husband or boyfriend was back there....otherwise, who knows what she was doing.

Seeing the beggar woman made me think: If I was a mother and had no money, would I choose to pick pocket, or beg? What a horrible decision to make. We are so lucky that we don't have to make those types of choices.

In India, I never give to beggars. This is mostly because I am afraid to. There are So many beggars -- and people-- and if you give to one person and other people notice, you can get overwhelmed by people crowding around. I have had this happen even with out giving money -- people surrounding us and clamoring for -- it can be scary -- not that they mean harm but it is just overwhelming . There are lots of way to give in India, that doesn't involve beggars (Oxfam, Unicef, Operation Shanti). Plus, I am sickened by the whole "beggar mafia" thing, and I am distrustful of where the money actually goes when you give to a beggar.

In China, I don't think people would crowd could give money and then go on your way. So, I think I might revise my policy about giving to beggars, at least in China. I wish I would have given that woman a few coins at least!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


There has been a huge amount of time between my last post and this one....but i's not ALL my fault! China blocks many sites with the "Great Firewall", including blogspot, Flickr, etc. We are living in Shanghai, China now. Matt and I both LOVE it, although it has been an extremely rocky road getting here and and even more rocky road since we have been here. I think I have basically been sick since I got here. I never used to get food poisoning, but now I seem to permanently have it. I got sick a few days after I arrived here, and it has continued in a less severe could also be an MS flare up OR swine flu. Who knows....

Another obstacle was Matt's poorly-timed 2.5 week business trip back to Boston only a few weeks after we got here. What's up with that??? Luckily, I am fairly outgoing (or extremely desperate?) and managed to meet friends and get myself settled while he was gone.

Right now we are in Hong Kong getting our visas settled. It's nice to be back here, but I can honestly say I am very happy we are living in Shanghai rather than Hong Kong. There is a more diverse group of foreigners living here, and the night life is more interesting and fun...there are lots of creative people here (not just rich people).

Here are some pictures of our apartment:

The lovely entrance

The hallway to our apartment

The kitchen

Probably the nicest closet I will ever have

Our indoor "patio"

The bathroom

There are a lot more pictures on Flickr!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tea Party

Last weekend my good friend Meredith had a tea was so much fun...I am so sad to leave all my friends here! But, I am definitely not sad to leave the cold. It is getting colder by the minute...literally, there is a huge snow storm hours away that is supposed to bring an inch of snow a minute. Oy! I am happy to be leaving this place for nicer weather.

Also, I look very pregnant in this photo. Don't get excited though...sadly, there is nothing I am not telling you.

Graduation Party

Things have been crazy for the past few weeks as I scramble to get everything done so I can FINALLY graduate. Woo hoo! I will be SO excited for no more homework! Yay! And getting paid real money. Yay!

I am doing a dual Masters degree (a Master in Public Health and a Master of Science in Food Policy) and so am graduating in winter instead of in May everyone else. They only give you the "real" graduation ceremony in May, so the other dual degree people and I had a party to celebrate on our own. I think I will be back in Boston May for a doctor appointment and will go through the ceremony, but it is fun to have a party now, too!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower

Since we didn't get to see the Plimoth Plantation on Thansgiving, we went back on the Saturday. I realized I was much more interested in the native people than the English settlers. Basically, the native people act like themselves and show the museum visitors how they make food, clothing, etc, and talk abou their culture in the past and in the present. It was fascinating; I loved it. A few feet away there is a recreation of the English settlement that the colonists lived in. Everybody there is in period clothing and they portray real historical people. I found that part of the museum to be cool but a little weird. It was really crowded so mainly I just listened to other people talk to the characters.

Then we went over to see Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower. It was freezing, as you can tell by my huge puffy coat!

I am glad Matt and I have spent time in New England...there is a lot of interesting stuff here...but it is cold and I don't feel like an New Englander. I guess I already mentally have one foot out the door...I am ready for the next thing! And it is coming up soon, altho0ugh we don't know what it is....we have to be moved out of our apartment on January 15th because new renters are coming in.

And no, we have no idea where we will be going.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Matt and I decided to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the Plimoth Plantation this year. It was sort of interesting, but we both agreed that in the end it is way more fun to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family. We haven't been home for Thanksgiving for SO many years...hopefully some day we will make it back.

The day got to sort of an awkward start because we did't leave the house early enough and a 40 minute drive turned into a 2.5 hour drive...and Matt was NOT happy. We didn't get to see any of the Plimoth Plantation and we rshed into the dinner late.

The people at our table were really nice. As usual, we were with elderly people. Haha, seems like we do everything that the seniors do...which makes me wonder what we will do when we are old...haha!

The food was ok, but nothing beats homecooking.

After the dinner, we went over to our friends' house for games and more pumpkin pie. THat was definitely the highlight of the day!

Monday, November 10, 2008


So, I think probably most people that know Matt and I know that we do things late. Everything...we eat late, come to parties late, respond to emails and phone calls late, celebrate holidays, in out usual style, we carved our Halloween pumpkins late (well into November!). Matt said that this was his greatest pumpkin ever, so I felt like I should post a picture to save it for posterity. He also made a "Blair Witch" type tree hanging out of Halloween costume hat. I thought it was pretty funny, but apparently someone didn't, because both our pumpkin an the tree hanging were gone the next morning. Some people are no fun!!

Ya, I realize the lateness thing is pretty rude....I try to not be late in things, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with life and distracted and things just get pushed back. This includes thank you notes and wedding gifts. I am sure a lot of people are irritated by this (I know a few who come right out and say it). Sorry to everyone! Hopefully I will be more punctual after I am out of school.

On to the "update" part of this blog post: So, Matt and I have been going through a very long decision process regarding where we will be moving in January. The choices are: Hong Kong, San Diego, and San Francisco. Our first choice in Hong Kong. I have to say, I am so impressed with Matt...he knew he wanted to move back there, and he worked really hard to position himself at work so that we could be transferred over there. I am amazed that he had that long term goal, back in January, and he succeeded. He would be the first one from his company to be living over it was big success on his part.

So, a few weeks ago we found out that my MS medicine isn't available over there. Matt called the drug company rep, and it definitely isn't available. We are going to try a few things to get it over there for me, but the outlook isn't that great. You never know, though. ANyway, needless to say I feel terrible. Even though I logically know that it isn't my "fault", I feel one wants to be a burden or to limit their husband or anyoneelse in their family. Also, I know that it isn't too much of a hardship to be in the US at least once every month...I mean, some people spend their whole lives here without leaving! It's not like I am asking him to change my diapers or something. But still, I am feeling really bad about this. Something could still work out though, it is not a closed book yet.

Our alternative is to move back to California...which isn't that bad of an's just that we both got really excited to move back to Hong Kong. Actually, Matt was excited, and I was schizo: One day I would want to go there, and the next day I would be adamantly opposed to anywhere but San Diego. I have to say, I am really proud and happy about makes me feel really safe knowing that his opinion stays constant when mine is all over the place. I never know what I really feel, but if Matt has an opinion about something important then I feel like I can trust it. The funny thing is, on most things he is ambivalent...he has no opinion because he doesn't care either way.

Anyway, Matt and I are just hoping at this point that we will come to a conclusion soon. It sucks to be in limbo. The thing that would be unfortunate is that if we move to California, Matt would have to quit his job...and this is not a great time to job searching!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cooking Club

The theme for the November meeting of my cooking club was "beautiful presentation". And, it just so happened to my my turn to host. Talk about pressure! Of all of us, I am the least well-supplied for hosting a dinner party, despite the fact that I just got married. Matt and I haven't really ever settled in to our place or accumulated muc stuff because we have always had it in our mind that we are moving soon. Hopefully, our next place will be more permanent. Anyway, our cooking club dinner may have been more beautifully presented if it had been at someone else's house, but hey, I tried! Also, I just noticed that my photo of my cooking club looks just like Maria's photos of her "girl's nights"....a bunch of ladies sitting around a table smiling and waiting to eat. Haha!

I made three things: Soup in pumpkin, gado gado, and cheesy spoon bread. I had a really hard time finding things to make that would be "beautiful". In the end, I don't even know if they were beautiful, but luckily they all tasted ok. I am an experimental cook and I usually don't make the same thing twice (unless I love it and Matt seemed willing to eat it again) often what I make will not be very good and it definitely won't be beautiful. Anyway, I had a brainstorm session with my mom while I was In San Diego and she suggested that I served soup in a pumpkin. It was a great idea, especially since Matt and I never got around to carving our pumpkins for Halloween. I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook by Mollie Katzen and I think it was pretty good.

I also made Gado Gado. It was also from the Mollie Katzen cookbook....can you tell I am obsessed? I loved this recipe, it was so easy and pretty, and it tasted good and was healthy. Katzen's recipe for peanut sauce is great!

As an afterthought, I also made cheesy spoon bread. It actually looked pretty cool when I took it out of the oven, but it deflated by the time I took the picture. It didn't taste that great to needed more salt or something. If people like really bland things, this might be good. It was very easy...just cornmeal, eggs, cheddar cheese, dried milk and a few other basic things. I bought dried milk for another recipe, and didn't know how to use the rest of the box so I googled dried milk recipes and this came up. I think little kids might like it? Not sure.

Everyone else made delicious, beautiful items also but I didn't get pictures of everything. For me, it was bittersweet because I only have 2 more cooking club dinners left before I move! These were the first people I met when I moved to Boston, before I started school or work or anything, and we have been having the monthly dinners for the whole 2.5 years....I will be sad to leave them! And sadly, if Matt and I move to Hong Kong I will probably never cook at all. Not enough kitchen space and too much socializing and having dinner is fun but the cooking goes by the wayside. Oh well. Hong Kong definitely has other benefits that make up for the lack of cooking.