The Shanghai Office

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
Trip End Mar 04, 2006

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

We left Seattle Friday morning and it's now Saturday night in Shanghai.

Yang Kai has just left for the night, so I'm here in the tastefully appointed Shanghai office. 21 floors up, nice downtown location, only a few blocks from the MagLev train station. It's kind of like an apartment really, very little in the way of 'office' stuff. Kind of like most home offices now, a desk, a printer, a bed.

The flight over the Pacific was uneventful, many Japanese and Chinese grandmothers on the plane - school starts up in Seattle again next week so Gramma's going back home. The lady on my right said almost nothing the whole trip, but she was quick to elbow me in the ribs when she wanted something. I must've done alright, she seemed pleased with my menu choices for her - fried rice and green tea, mostly.

Until today, China was an abstraction. I have had no direct contact with the bureauacracy. My work visa was all done by mail. On the Tokyo - Shanghai leg of the journey, the flight attendants passed out the Customs and Immigration forms - they paint a more down to earth picture of China.

"Have you been near any poultry in the past seven days?"
"Are you sick - check your symptoms in the boxes on the right"
Flu like symptoms?

As I'm considering whether I have any publications or media that would be detrimental to Chinese culture, people are coughing around me. Off the plane at last, I notice the Chinese have a much closer sense of space. Though we're in an enormous processing center, the Chinese crowd in tight, like we're being packed onto a bus.

Infrared cameras with signs reading 'walk slowly.' More people in uniform that you usually see. Slower lines. I'm in the 'Foreigner' line, Yang Kai is in the 'Chinese National' line. Neither line is moving.

Welcome to China.
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