We have this new friend, Scott and Yin introduced us last summer. A woman from Hong Kong who we have been hanging with here. She invited us over for dinner last night.
She is a window, who is wealthy, Hong Kong wealthy. That is another category altogether. Her condo was sumptuous. There was a Picasso etching on one wall, and a Pissaro on the other wall, and a beautiful Chinese painters work on this other wall, who sells his work through Christies in New York, his last one went for 5 million. She likes to buy and sell art, understands the art market, and knows Christies, and the New York and Hong Kong galleries and knows this new market for Chinese painters that are selling for 5 to 20 million dollar. It was all surreal evening, we accepted her wild and wonderful art stories, saw some of her art collection, enjoyed her feast, her hospitality. It is traditional here to bring a gift, not actually knowing what we were getting into, we brought a bar of soap from Thymes and a bag of wild rice, now it seems kind of paltry.
She has a cook, who made a 10 course dinner for us, (ok, I exaggerate sometimes, not this time), this went on for three hours, enjoyable repartee, extremely tasty home cooked Chinese food, and ended with several unusual fruits from China that I had never tasted before, then a final dessert of a sweet pudding made from fungus. We don’t always get the exact translations, but she brought out the bag of white and black dried somethings to show us, we shook our head and said “oh, this kind of fungus.” Its some kind of mushroom when cooked get sweet and gooey, hmmm. The Woolly brothers would have fit right in.
We were full, up past our ears, and took a taxi from one end of new Shanghai downtown (all built in the last 5 years) to our district, through what I can only describe as what artists in 1920 thought what the future would look like. The architecture here is stunning, the best architects in the world design here and have great clients who want to out do each other with extravagances and style, and money is no problem, Shanghai is booooommming.
I saw Donkey on the menu the other day, nothing is too weird here, its all edible.
Here’s a temple full of Buddhas.
I just received a tentative job offer in Thailand to help design an exhibit on promoting healthy life choices for teens. There is a large HIV-AIDs problem there, and this exhibit would reach 1 million students in a year. They want me to start in February. We were planning on coming back to Shanghai after Christmas and teach till May. I have been waiting for a project like this to appear, while living overeas, and it does. I will hear from UNESCO in Thailand in a few days if this is for real. Stay tuned.
Here’s some of my art from my website.
And here are recent pictures.
Old town Shanghai street
This morning we got on our bikes to go to the Shanghai Museum, I am excited to go there. We bike and bike, we love seeing the city this way, eventually we pull over to check the map, can’t find any of the streets we are on, and ask someone, shoot, we took a right, we should of taken a left, but hold on, isn’t that IKEA up ahead, lets go in and have lunch. Meat balls, and lefse, the same menu as back home. We look at the map again, and find a very cool, beautiful active Buddhist temple nearby, 1000′s of Buddhas and spend the day there. Its hard not to have a good adventure here anywhere.
Everyday, all the students, about 700 students, go onto the big field and stand at attention in rows, and music comes on the loud speakers. This is through out China, and they do these proscribed set of exercises. They take it very seriously. Also during the day, music comes on the intercom through out the school twice a day, and the children do 15 minutes of eye exercises, a series of face massages, this is also through out China. I have also started to do the eye exercises, and sure enough, I feel eye tension gone, and a feeling of well being, its a sort of meditation and rubbing your brow, your nose and cheeks and around your eyes to gentle music.
We have this grand master martial artist/tai qi teacher, a beautiful man, about my age, wears all white silk jamas, speaks no English, not a word, we meet him twice a week, so far we have had two lessons, and he is a excellent teacher. more on this later.
Dudes, the craziness of riding a bike here, I am in the flow with 40 other bikes and small electric scooters, in our own lane, maybe 20 mph, do I have close calls, like 20 a day, but I am realizing everyone in the bike pack of 40 all have close calls, here comes a scooter going the wrong way coming at us, we open and flow around him, he almost touches several of us, maybe 1/2 inch away, up ahead is a slow going three-wheeler with some long metal poles hanging in back, we all flow around him, like a school of fish, not thinking just reflexing, let the body react not the mind, just keep up with the pack, I’ve gone two blocks past my get off point because the bike pack was thick and going so well. There is a life lesson here somewhere.
Here are some photos I took of old town Shanghai.
The Way to the Temple
Searching for the Gathered Fragrance Temple:
miles of mountains rise into clouds,
ancient trees darken the narrow trail.
Where is that mountain bell?
Snowmelt crashes down on boulders,
the sun grows cold in the pine before
it drowns in the lake. Keep your karma
in good working order: many dragons lie in wait.
Wang Wei (701-761)
China continues to be my teacher. Their poetry, our loving Chinese neighbors, our young students, the museums. I have opened my inner door wider each day here. I have begun to study the Chinese master painters, that were totally left out of all my art studies. The aesthetics of their art requires me to meditate deeper, to slow way way down, before I open my eyes, and to see the silence. I am in process of a shifting in my creativity, I can feel it move.
We have found an older Tai Chi teacher, we meet Sunday morning at 9, at the stone gate near by. The local Chinese Culture Center has art classes, and it is two blocks away. This week is national holiday, everything is closed, even the banks, which are usually open 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm. Its their fourth of July, 58 years of being a republic. This doesn’t all make sense since China is centuries old, but trying to understand China through logic and reason is not the way to go.
Everyday I take a new street and follow it on my bike, past the food stalls and smells, and open air markets, and small shops, and people selling fish and eels out of tubs on bicycles. I saw a young beautiful women in high heels, buy an eel, put it in a plastic bag, get back on her scooter and take off, with this eel twisting and turning in the bag.
We were invited to neighbors last week, the first time they have ever had foreigners over and served rabbit and, well, that was the only thing I could identify. On cafe menus we see Sheep eyes, Drunken Horse Bowel, Jelly fish soup.