珍珠奶茶 – Pearl Milk Tea (with red bean!)
Living abroad feels a lot like being a baby. I’m inordinately proud of the stupidest things for absolutely no good reason. Kind of how people gawk at toddlers for taking a few steps or saying a two-word phrase. My greatest accomplishment today was ordering bubble tea – zhen zhu nai cha – all by myself. I’m still terrified of talking to shopkeepers, because ordering here is so rapid-fire and rude, so I could only order what I knew — hot red bean milk tea on a 90º day. But you know what? I feel so unabashedly proud for doing such a silly thing. I even told them to insert the straw so I could drink the tea now. It’s become kind of a like a trade off — either I embarrass myself by ordering food in Chinese or… I starve. For the past few days I’ve been choosing starvation, but now it’s time to get off my ass and start talking to people, no matter how rude they may be (at least to my precocious New England standards). I’m even starting to laugh at my mistakes. I told a friend today that I’ll be living in Shanghai for two cows (二牛) instead of two years (二年)
Bubble tea is becoming my new favorite thing in China. Considering that for the past 48 hours, I’ve been subsiding on a diet entirely of banana milk and protein bars, pearl tea is a nice change of pace. There are bubble tea shops on virtually every corner And a large glass of bubble tea sets you back just 8块 (or $1.25). Did I mention that the cost of living here is ridiculously low?
静安 Jingan Temple
I haven’t adapted to many silly Chinese superstitions, like being deathly afraid of the number 4 or eating noodles without biting them (or eating noodles at all, feeding myself here is still an upward journey). But today I made my way to Jingan temple – the temple of peace and tranquility – for which my neighborhood is named. Naturally, the temple of peace and tranquility is located in the middle of the center of the city, offset by a Dior store and an Old Navy, with about 30 skyscrapers seen from the temple courtyard and an underground mall right to the left. Not tranquil indeed.
Nonetheless, I lit a bundle of incense, bowed to a 40 ft silver Buddha and tried to pray for a spiritual start on my expat journey. While I certainly don’t consider myself to be religious, one of my fondest memories of my childhood is going into Russian orthodox churches, and lighting candles to the patron saints of old age and health of wish my grand parents well. This is sort of like that. I lit the bundle of incense for a good life in Shanghai. The smell of the burning incense reminded me of being back in my yoga studio in New Haven and that made Shanghai feel a little more familiar, a little more like home.