Noilly Prattle: What a gas!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What a gas!

My severely myopic road buddy is 15 years my junior, but she's still able to keep up with me. Back in the summer of 2008 we had begun making arrangements for a trip to Spain, when her eye condition worsened and required a procedure called epiretinal membrane peeling. The procedure required the fluid in the eyeball to be temporarily replaced with a gas until the new fluid, little by little, replaced it.

That put an end to our plan to fly to Spain because it was verboten to fly for a month after the surgery—something to do with the incompatibility of aircraft cabin pressure and the gas in the eye. Although it was not stated concretely, I had visions of the eye exploding out of its socket and splattering on the wall of the cabin.

We were, naturally, disappointed in our aborted trip to Spain. As a consolation prize, we flew to Shanghai instead after the month was up and the natural fluid had filled the eye cavity—and we didn't have to worry about scraping the eye off the cabin wall. Blech!

So, the meaning of the title in the previous post. We were having our morning coffee recently and she said maybe it's a good thing that we are 15 years apart. We can still travel before you get too old and I get too visually impaired to do so. So, bad macabre joker that I am, I laughed and said: “Terrific, the crippled leading the blind!

Nanjing Road shopping street
traffic jam, what else?
Except for a trip to Hong Kong some 26 years ago we had never really been to China. Hong Kong was still a British territory at the time. So going to Shanghai the year China hosted the Olympics in 2008 was our first (and so far only) trip to a China emerging onto the world stage—like a Phoenix rising from the ashes—as it has done so many times in its long history as a coherent nation. 

Pudong across the river
tai-chi in the morning
family outing
Daishijie - our subway stop
yum-yum dim sum
Shanghai, as you might expect in a “developing” country, was a city of contrasts from the towering skyscrapers and business bustle of Pudong, to the back alleys of the neighborhood our hotel was in where people still bathe and do laundry in the street. People gather in parks and do tai-chi in the morning and haggle over the price of tea in the market—and wonderful Chinese food (and others) to die for. Where a young fellow graciously helped us to find our hotel when we were hopelessly lost. Where I had a “Margarita Supreme” in a place called Zapata's in the old French Concession the size of a goldfish bowl for practically a song. Where a little girl whose mother sold flowers in the street saw me carrying a McDonald's bag (with only hot coffee inside unbeknownst to her) and grabbed my arm trying to get what she thought was a hamburger and wouldn't let go. [I would have given it to her if it had been a burger.] A city, indeed, of contrasts from extreme conspicuous wealth to a hungry child in the street. Sounds a little like America these days, come to think of it. 

Photos taken at Yuyuan Garden in old Shanghai

lotus and carp pond
tea house in the garden
window framing the garden
ubiquitous "moongate"
 undulating dragon wall

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that was a wonderful trip for me, as well, my friends….