I focus on philosophy for life more than real/practical information on Shanghai. Don’t worry. I will be back to the topic people rely on to survive in this city soon.
I found many circumstances that people, sometimes including me, cannot distinguish enjoying doing something or enjoying being able to do something. What is the difference?
We spent a lot to buy an apartment in Xujiahui that is near Ever Bright Exhibition Center. There was very good sports facility there. In the two years, we never played badminton or swing there. We paid for “being able to exercise at anytime”. After that, we thought we have reached our goal.
I have a good friend who decided to buy expensive and nice sport shoes, so he can jog. I asked “Do you enjoy jogging or enjoy being able to jog?”
We live in Shanghai. People are pride to announce: “We are in Shanghai. We have the best fashion show, the best ballet, the best film, the best museum, the best bar…” in Shanghai. Whatever people claim, we seldom enter a museum or theatre. It seems people enjoy being able to go to a museum better than really going there.
How many purchase started with the desire of being able to do something instead of doing something. It is not rare to find out visitors to a city know the city better than local. Ask native resident about the Oriental Pearl, or Shanghai Museum – the majority of them never tried that. “They are all for visitors”. It is the same that people in New York may not experience the sky deck of the Empire State Tower, and people in Seattle may not visit the Space Needle.
I am not saying enjoying doing something is always more important than being able to do something. I just started to distinguish these two feeling so I won’t buy something because I enjoy being able to do something. I used a sentence like a tough-twister.
Shanghai Tour for Shanghainese
I was thinking about the idea of Shanghai tour for Shanghainese. We are in this city and we enjoy being able to going to any place in this city without worrying about time limitation. The result is, we never go there. There are great places in Shanghai, just like the Best Afternoon in Shanghai that only people in Shanghai can enjoy with grace pace. Start to tour the city as a visitor, plan one day or two days off (a weekend is perfect) and wake up with the excitement of a traveler, even spend a night at a local hotel. The same city will be different that day.
I have to quote Alain de Botton’s paragraph in the Art of Travel. It make a lot sense:
What, then, is a traveling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall. We find a supermarket or a hairdresser’s shop unusually fascinating. We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs
Home, by contrast, finds us more settled in our expectations. We fell assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood, primarily by virtue of our having lived there a long time. It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place where we have been living for a decade or more. We have become habituated and therefore blind to it.
How smart is Alain de Botton.
P.S Bonus Pack: What about the Living Cost in Shanghai
What is the living cost in Shanghai? It still remains the top questions I got from email. Let me give you an example of living cost. de Botton’s article reminded me of hairdresser. If you want your hair cut, I have the following three places for you to pick:
A) Hairdresser downstairs. We have someone like this. They charge for 5 RMB per time for man’s hair. But the appearance of the room and the equipment is simple enough to drive away all picky customers. Their customers are mainly those local residents.
B) Hairdresser chain store like “Wen Feng” – a famous brand you can find around the city. They charge 20 RMB for man’s haircut. They are pretty professional and have the largest customer base.
C) Professional hairdresser (with foreign or Hong Kong investment background). They are in big department stores and they charge 150 RMB to 300 RMB per hair cut. My friend Kevin had his first haircut in Shanghai at 240 RMB (17 pounds) at Three on the Bund.
Before you ask me about living cost in Shanghai, tell me the answer to the question: Which kind of lifestyle do you lead, A, B, or C?