Write Your God ™
Life's a Hot Pot
I'm in Hangzhou now-- at Sharday's apartment. She lives about 1.5 hours from Shanghai.
Yesterday, we attempted to see a variety show of Chinese culture featuring acrobatics, song and dance. Well, the show didn't start until much later than we would have liked so, it didn't happen.
Instead, we decided to explore the neighborhood around the box office beginning with mapping the food options around us. We found a place not too far situated in a mall.
Faiygo's (think that's right) serves food in hot pots. Each table has a stirno and pot. To order, you go down a checklist given on a paper and select the broth you want and the ingredients you want in it. So the base could be curry potato and to that you add fresh vegetables, raw seafood and meat that is brought to your table for you to put in your boiling broth. It was delicious. Sharday and I ordered okra, scallops, lobster buns and dumplings and some spices. We had these pumpkin desserts and were stuffed when we left. Not to mention, tied. Yes, tied.
So on our way out we stopped at Oryx to get coffee. Oryx is a coffee shop/ small bites restaurant/ bookstore/ running club. If you've ever been to Bust Boys and Poets in D.C., it's similar in terms of the creative amalgam of food, recreation and art. It's like if the Nike Store and Starbucks had a baby. The place is adorned by these dope sneaker displays; a long bookshelf flanks the back wall; the servers steam up caramel macchiatos; and the TVs display marathons from around the world. It was really cool and cozy. I wanted to eat just because (yes again and although stuffed), but we had a train to Hangzhou to catch (not before making a 3:00 minute video to Nicki Minaj's Fly-- I'll share that when I see you).
Tomorrow is a work day for us, personally. Sharday and I have some work to get done in our lives, so we are planning to spend the day in Starbucks.
By the way, the Starbucks here is gross. One, sugar is not used in outlandish amounts like at home so everything is a little bland. That's true for all typically sweet things like cookies and cupcakes. Sugar is used sparingly so the most delectable, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup goodies (because let's be honest, that stuff hits the spot sometimes) you might imagine, like a plump marshmallow cupcake, tastes a little underwhelming.
I'll tell you this--- this experience has inspired me to travel abroad by myself (and possibly live abroad). Although I am an outsider here, I feel free. There is something very liberating about not being on guard-- the type of on guard caused by that special brand of U.S. racism. Or being the intentional subject of someone's disdain and hate. I don't feel like the police might shoot me, or someone might feel threatened by me and hurt me. People are doing them and aren't fazed by me, and in that pleasant disregard, in the margins of this society, I feel free. I'm definitely not playing the "voyeur" role and romanticizing a culture that is fraught with its own issues just because it's 'exotic.' It's a little hard to articulate now, but I'll spend some more time thinking about how to explain it. In the meantime, and in the words of the prophet Jay Z, "I wish I could give you this feeling."
Image 1- All my cars are foreign
Image 2- Oryx
Image 3- Sweet potatoes on the streets of Luijiabang