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Saturday, August 17, 2013

The unbearable heaviness of shopping

My daughter inside Xujiahui Metro station  徐家汇站

Shopping observation #1: Shopping in China isn't a pleasurable experience

My wife's computer went kaput last week, so it's time to go shopping for a new one. This morning we got up relatively early and headed out to the Pacific Digital Plaza 太平洋数码广场, a large electronics mart similar to NOVA in Taichung 台中 and conveniently located just in front of the above-mentioned Xujiahui Metro station. We weren't there long: the sales clerks were extremely aggressive. If you so much as even glanced at a particular item, a salesperson would immediately be all over you, extolling the virtues of that particular product. One man even followed us up the escalator from the first to the second floor, haranguing Pamela despite her protests that she was only there to "look for somebody" (a feeble lie born out of desperation), and then turning his attention to me despite my insistence that I didn't need whatever brochures he was trying to give out. It's times like these I wish I weren't a diplomat.

Shopping observation #2: Shopping with my Significant Other isn't a pleasurable experience

Fleeing the Pacific Digital Plaza, the three of us escaped into the relative sanity of Metro City 美罗城, located next door (and pictured above).  This place was more akin to an American-style shopping mall, but it had one floor devoted to electronics, with much less aggressive staff than their pushy rivals next door. It was here that my normally level-headed Dr. Jekyll of a spouse underwent her shopping transformation into a fixated Ms. Hyde. For my beloved has a tendency at times to get attached to either an idea or a product, and no appeals to logic or reason can stop her from getting something once she decides that she needs (read wants) it. In this case, rather than walking around the floor of Metro City and checking out the various shops, she made a beeline for an outlet of a particular Taiwanese hardware manufacturer. Rather than having a look at all the models on display, she drew the salesperson's attention to just one. And rather than getting all the relevant information from the staff, and then going home and doing some research online to see if she could get the same model cheaper and with a more expansive warranty (as opposed to one covering only China), my Cosmic Soul Mate decided she couldn't wait any longer and that she had to get it now. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

So it looks like I'll need to cash another check this week in order to have enough money for incidentals like food. And my wife is still going to have to wait several days for the computer to be delivered to our home. 

Amber enjoys a custard taiyaki 鯛焼き at Metro City

Despite the tone of the preceding paragraphs, today was actually a pleasurable one for the most part. Amber and I went to a pool party in the afternoon at a nearby housing compound, and then the three of us had dinner at a seafood restaurant just around the corner from where we live. Afterward, we took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered a number of small eateries that look deserving of visits in the near future. 

And for once the temperature today didn't exceed 40°C (104°F). It was more like the usual 35°C (95°F). Shanghai 上海 has had 42 days (not including today) this summer where the temperature has been 35°C or higher, the majority of them coming after we arrived early last month. This evening felt relatively cooler, however, and the temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 beginning Monday. Now if only something could be done about the humidity...

A friendly feline at the local wet market 街市

Our dinner this evening. In case you're wondering, yes, that dish in the upper right of the photo is stinky tofu 臭豆腐. Pamela loves it, while Amber and I can't stand either the smell and the taste. Still, seeing as this was the first time to have it in China, and noticing that it differed somewhat in appearance from the stinky tofu usually found in Taiwan, I thought I'd be open-minded and give it a try.

The verdict

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