I have met people who didn’t stay for long but left an imprint in my heart. I learn more of myself through that person. What I want, who I am as a person. Maybe it’s true, we don’t change – we simply become a clearer version of ourselves.
On March first of last year, I arrived in Shanghai from Taipei. I stayed at the Hostel near the Bund. I’ve bumped into interesting characters. When I went to the computer room for the free WiFi, I saw an aspiring musician strumming his guitar to practice singing his songs. I kind of liked his beat. I thought about exchanging emails to discuss writing lyrics together, but my shyness (scratch that, anxiety – a topic I’m planning to discuss on a later date) overshadowed my opportunity.
Who knows, he’d probably stare back at me as if I have multiple heads.
As shocking as it may be, I didn’t take this picture of my feet to be all cute. Reason 1: Look at my shoes. I bought the pair the last time I was in Hangzhou. Reason 2: Look at the details of the mosaics.
I was at the Peace Hotel. I hope to go back for Traditional High Tea; it is served at the Jasmine Lounge. Note to self: I may not have to wear gloves, but smart casual is necessary. Meaning: don’t dress terribly like you’re going to Disney World Theme Park. Not that I dare to look that terribly even when I go to those places. I mean, pictures are forever, but that’s another story altogether. Here some random facts bout the Peace Hotel:
- Fairmount Peace Hotel (once was called Cathay Hotel till 1956) is located on the Bund, facing Huangpu River.
- Victor Sassoon (a Sephardic Jew) was the founder of Cathay Hotel.
- Victor Sassoon was a was a businessman and hotelier from the Sassoon Banking family.You can read more about him over here.
- Cathay Hotel was the first high-rise of over 10 floors back that time in Shanghai.
- Sassoon Mansion was the nickname for the Cathay Hotel.
- In 2007, the Peace Hotel was closed for much-needed renovation and restoration.
I guess you can say I’m taking advantage of living here by learning more about the brief Jewish history in Shanghai. Sometimes learning about the city you’re living in help you appreciate your surroundings even more.
There are days I felt like screaming but I’m going to have those moments regardless where I am.
Culture shock is a wonderful thing in disguise. It means I have an opportunity to open up my mind and expand my horizons. Sometimes I must be so uncomfortable to the point I want to jump out of my own skin before I can truly appreciate the new life I have given myself.
I may not have a strong sense of identity, and it’s okay. Home is not written in our D.N.A. We don’t have to trace our origins to find our place on the map. Having said that, we shouldn’t mistaken that for having any sort of “entitlement.” 我們不須要一個白人救世主, 你自認為你比遊客更優等, 但是對不起, 你仍是個遊客。我雖然有時會有筆誤, 但我不會自認為是本地人的代言人, 所以請回去做你自己這個受寵的白人吧! Some people be thinking they are, “the local whisperer.”
A reminder for myself – “Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.” Zadie Smith, On Beauty
I only lived in Shanghai for almost two years and I am telling you, what I see around my neighborhood has already changed so much. Right now, I am hearing a building being demolished as I type this. I’m at a point in my life where I’m genuinely happy. I can’t pinpoint why I’m happy but I am. I simply feel content.