Saturday, April 05, 2008

City on Steroids - Shanghai

I had seen a lot of pictures of Shanghai (and Mission Impossible 3) before and I guess I knew it was a big city with buildings everywhere. But nothing could have prepared me for Shanghai. Looking down from the tallest observation deck in the city as far out as the smog will allow you, all you can see are really tall buildings. I mean of course, that in itself is not new - but considering just 10 or 15 years ago, so much of this didn't exist, the city completely stuns you. In the past few months at business school, I've heard India and China talked about in the same breath (albeit everyone does mention that China is ahead as of now) - but I still expected China to be more or less like India. But the infrastructure in China just blew me away. Nothing in India (in any of the cities I have been) can compete.

But then, my perspective on that is that to build a whole city in a communist country is not the same as even building a single structure in a democracy. And well, while Shanghai is amazing, and it would be a dream to achieve something like that in cities in India, I wouldn't give up democracy and freedom for anything. Even if because of it India does take time to play catch up. But this discussion for another day. For now, back to Shanghai.

Our first night in Shanghai was spent on Nanjing road, which is basically a street made of neon lights. The lights are completely blinding! My first meal in Shanghai was interesting to say the least. I ordered a dish called 'Chicken with Capsicum' and when I did, the waitress said 'you want chicken with peppers'? Of course, I said yes assuming that like it would be here, peppers = capsicum. Apparently the translation got lost somewhere, and whoever had written the english menu assumed capsicum means chillies and I received a dish which was 50% red chillies!

Most of my time in Shanghai was spent walking around the streets, shopping, seeing more big buildings (including the interestingly shaped but not-so-appealing-to-me TV tower). I also found out that they were in the process of building the tallest tower in the world - but before they could finish it, the Taipei 101 was built, which will soon be surpassed by the new structure coming up in Dubai - making the one in Shanghai the 3rd tallest.

Some of the interesting things I saw: Old couples practicing ball room dancing in the park; a lot of people practicing martial arts or traditional forms of dance in the park; people stopping you every five minutes on the road asking if you want to buy a rolex or a prada bag (one of these women actually followed a guy in our group around for a long time trying to convince him to get something, anything!). Oh and I rode on the Maglev train - 431 km/h!! But just didnt seem like that big a deal while you are sitting on it. Though it was cool to get to the airport in 7 minutes!

Shanghai was just a brilliant city - buildings, food, shopping, nightlife, people. I was so so impressed. Hats off!

1 comment:

~nm said...

That surely was quite interesting to read!

So did you manage to eat those red chillies? :D