One of the annoying realities about travelling to new places while not on a holiday, is that at some point you have to put stuff away and get to work. Which has essentially been my regime for the past week or so, as I do my best at preparing myself for my last two classes in my MBA, and still managing to get my brain to function and myself to care. It's really difficult considering how much I really just want this to be over with. Not that I have anything against the MBA or Hult, but I'm ready for graduation now. Ready to get on with the rest of my life.
And while my travels around the city have been limited this past week, I have managed to enjoy a small variety of Shanghai's more cutting edge English print t-shirts and caps. Here is a selection of what I've seen people wearing on their clothes in public:
PERVERT (seen behind a boy's football jersey)
I LOVE KUSH (seen on a girls cap on the metro)
I sometimes wonder if they really know what they're wearing.
Another reality I have come to understand about Shanghai is that it doesn't rain here. It's either bright sunshine with blue skies or apocalyptic thundering rain and epilepsy inducing lightening. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground to the summer's in Shanghai. Though I am told that this is unusual for this city at this time of the year, it seems to be a weekly occurrence ever since I've been here.
But, sometimes, you do get to engage in really interesting cultural experiences that you couldn't even dream of. Take today for example. After having lunch with an old professor from Shanghai, I was lucky enough to encounter probably the most unique cultural experience of my life.
A little background is required though.
Yesterday, we were informed by two MBA students (one of whom is Italian), that today we were to be serenaded by Mr. Ma. Who is Mr. Ma? Well, turns out Mr. Ma works in security in the building in which Hult has its campus. And after a chance meeting with the these two students in the building, he invited them downstairs in the underground locker rooms to perform Italian opera for them.
So moved were these two (being sung to in a shady room with other naked Chinese men), that they set up a performance for Hult students today on campus. Good music, good wine and good people; what more could you possibly ask for?
Mr. Ma is a retired teacher who now works in security. He also sings Chinese opera, as he did two songs for us today. Much more unexpectedly, he also sings Italian opera, of which he performed two songs for us as well. Considering that he does not even speak the language, it was by far one of the most impressive things I have ever seen.
Mr. Ma didn't speak English, and we didn't speak his language. Most of us didn't even understand the language he was singing in, and neither did he. Yet for those 45 minutes, we were all connected in some indescribable way, respectful, engaged and appreciative that we managed to relate in, what for many of us, is an alien city, and for him, with an alien audience. It felt good, concrete, worthwhile. It was a small part of my entire Shanghai experience, but it is a memory I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Mr. Ma was gracious and kind, and incredibly talented. He was also warm and generous, willing to share his great talent with the rest of us, so that for one evening, for less than an hour, we could all forget about all that was happening around us and all that we needed to do, and just appreciate each other and enjoy each other's company.
The world needs more Mr. Ma's.