A Shanghai Story

“Ni Hao?”

“How are you?”

“Wo Henhao.”

“I am great.”

“This concludes Lesson 2 of Pimsleur’s Mandarin Chinese 1.”

I listen to this lesson on my iPod as I look around of my flight.  I’m sitting near the left wing of a Cathay Pacific flight to Pudong just listening to Pimsleurs on my iPod and looking foward to the future after a volatile year at Rutgers.  On my left, there is an overweight, middle-aged man on my right just typing away on his notebook.  I see texts with the words ” consolidation”, “joint venture”, and “China” on the report he’s trying to write thinking he must be getting ready for a business proposal in Shanghai.  The flight from JFK to Pudong took about a good three days with a nice delayed stopover in LAX that gave me a chance to call up some friends.

Fred seems to be gearing up for his European vacation from Lisbon to Berlin.  Marie is just slacking away at home playing Guild Wars while Rob is still emailing resumes left and right hoping for that killer interview to come through.  I remembered the last semester where I was like that.   Just sending my resumes left and right on monstertrak and arranging interviews with Interviewtrak.  The first round would go great then the second round would bomb either because I didn’t like the recruiters, my competitors or I just wasn’t in good spirits.  In any event, it was one rejection after another.  I found out gradually what industries were not suited for me although I was getting offers mostly from sales.  The nature of those positions were just below me: jobs that were of low pay and didn’t seem to require any college degree.  Most jobs and recruiters were just looking for raw experience: no more, no less.

It seemed like the job hunt was my biggest concern, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  I keep thinking how worried I was when my estranged relative wanted to conveinently creep back into my life.  Fortunately, he was not there for my post-graduation party and my cousin’s wedding.  As my friend, Feng said, it is a matter of time before I confront my demons and just face the “face”.   He was right, I can’t keep running away from these demons forever.  I had done it once before by moving to the States where I lost my faith, my health, my identity and nearly my life.  If I was going to deal with him, I would have to make my return to China not to just reconnect with my heritage, do some soul-searching, and restore my faith but to also deal with him.

“Sir, can you please remove your headphones.  We are serving dinner,” the flight attendant said.

“Oh, sorry about that.  I must have drifted to the music.”  I replied.

I removed my headphones and picked up my meal from the stewardess.  It was fried rice with ham and chicken served steam asparagus with a cup of Sprite.  There was much on my mind as my plane flies ever closer to China and eventually Shanghai.  This is a trip that I need to take to find myself and to bring closure to the living past.


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