My China Eastern flight today from Beijing to Shanghai was delayed by more than two hours. I began to get annoyed, before it occurred to me that I could be waiting on an Air India flight, and suddenly the hard metal seat to which my rear was attached seemed far less uncomfortable.
The taxi ride from the conference to my hotel this afternoon was more eventful than it really needed to be. I hopped in the cab and told the driver I needed to go to the Sheraton Great Wall. He appeared to offer his condolences for my poor taste in hotels, and off we went. Five miles and 30 minutes of Beijing traffic later we drove past the Sheraton. I politely pointed this out to the driver, who waved away my comment and kept driving. I began to get more insistent, pointing behind us and loudly repeating “Sheraton!” He yelled back and pointed forward. We continued on this way for several minutes, compensating for our total lack of understanding what the other was saying by simply getting louder. This is not the most effective way to communicate.
It finally occurred to me to take out my room key, on which the Sheraton’s name and address were printed. When I showed this to the driver he snatched it, glared at me as if to say “Why didn’t you say Sheraton sooner?”, and turned around. He didn’t give the room key back. I decided my prospects for a long life were better if I just let him keep it.
When we finally reached the Sheraton I didn’t offer a tip, since we’d driven nearly twice as far as we needed to. He declined to offer me change, however, so I suppose we’re even.
My flight delays in Beijing barely allowed me time to check into the Westin Bund Center and drop my bags before running out to meet colleagues at Shanghai’s new riverfront boardwalk area, just opened in advance of the World Expo. Typical of Shanghai, this is a beautifully done development.
Dinner tonight was at TMSK (Tou Ming Si Kao, which means transparent thinking) in the Xian Tian Di district. TMSK is an exceptional restaurant with gorgeous décor in multi-colored glass designs. The food was terrific – I recommend the prawn cakes – though a bit pricey for Shanghai
After dinner I was afforded another opportunity to indulge my dicing addiction with a delightful group of women at the Luxe Club, also in Xian Tian Di. Minus the dicing, this modern dance club would fit right in to any major American city.
I typically pass on dancing. I wouldn’t say I’m the world’s worst dancer – I once met a midget with Down syndrome who was less skilled – but what I do on the dance floor more closely resembles an epileptic seizure than anything graceful or coordinated. After two hours of not winning at dicing, however, I was tipsy enough to think abject humiliation was a good idea.
I was the only white face in the club, so my arrival on the dance floor did not go unnoticed. The mostly female crowd gyrating to American techno music seemed eager to include me, at least until I began trampling their feet. I think they were expecting Fred Astaire. They got Fred Flintstone.
I was quickly ushered off the dance floor, and happily returned to dicing for the remainder of the night.