I was walking to work a few days ago, and guy who looked familiar came up to me. “Hey! How are you? How are the girls?” Honestly, I had just woken up, I was running late, I assumed he was a student somewhere, and just smiled saying everything is fine. After I got to work, I realized he was our ice-cream man, Issac. You know how, when you don’t see someone in context, it’s hard to place them. Like the first time I saw Carlos Baerga NOT in his baseball uniform, but just normal street clothes. You look and look, but you can’t be sure. So the thing is, Issac used to work at Cold Stone Creamery near old place downtown, and every month we would go there once or twice. He does these things where he tosses balls of ice cream in the air and they land in the cups. It’s pretty cool to watch. Anyway, it turns out that he lives in our complex and works in the same building I do. I think we’ll go visit him later today.
Then Rumi called me to tell me about her new friend. Her name is Aria, and she’s going to have a baby. Rumi helped her water her plants, and she couldn’t believe how well she spoke English. Her apartment is right next to the playground. I told Rumi, that was my old supervisor. She quit when she got pregnant.
I had to take one day of my days off and go to the police station to register. The problem with this, and the reason I hadn’t done it up to this week, is because no one could tell me exactly where the police station is. So with all my documents in my hand, and the Chinese word for police station on my translator, I set out with the girls to find it. But something happened and my translating screen went blank while we were trying to hail a taxi. I turned around and started walking to the halal restaurant we go to, to ask them to write the word “police station” in Chinese for me, when I ran into Jack, our old real-estate agent, who had moved, but apparently moved back, and now works right near our apartment. He hailed the cab for us and told them where to go.
We did turn our police run into a really good day though. We were called ahead of everyone else (I think because we are foreign). And the process was pretty quick. The longest part was filling out the forms for each of us. Then, since we were near, we went to the mall where the other WEB is, and ate pizza and had milkshakes. We visited Anne, Raine, and Raymond who work at the other WEB, but best of all, we found this beautiful park, with little paddle boats. I think every spare inch of Shanghai, is used for greenery or fun. The pond was really pretty and filled with fish, and almost all the paddle boats were taken when we go there, but the girls had a blast.
Still, I love being able to walk around, and everyone knows us by now. If I go to a curry house, I almost don’t have to order. The girls at the drug store can’t wait to speak English to me. The bathroom cleaner always has one toilet where there are no brooms and buckets, and it is unlocked for me now. The girls at the accessory store, are the most fun. By the time we are out of there, we have bought a few trinkets, but the girls often get their hair done, the nails painted, and some extra trinket on the side.
In a city of 25 million people, running into the same few over and over, or just when you need them, is such a pleasant surprise.