Weibo: Twitter on Crack

Trip Start Aug 29, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did

Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Pianissimo" in Chinese is "pianissimo". 

On Wednesday, I attended my first rehearsal with the Shanghai City Symphonic Orchestra (上海城市交响乐团), China's first and perhaps only volunteer community orchestra. I learned about the orchestra through Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site that's like Twitter but way cooler. You can post videos and pictures directly and can even start your own poll!

 From the 86-year-old conductor, Cao Peng, I learned that "pianissimo" in Chinese is "pianissimo" and that second violins are trouble-makers in all of the world's community orchestras. The three other foreigners in the orchestra said they think it's cheating for me to understand Chinese in rehearsal while they can only catch the odd "do re mi" or "vibrato" and almost never know when to start playing. Ha, suckers. 

We started with an absurdly, frighteningly fast rendition of Smetana's The Bartered Bride. After feeling legitimately intimated for the two hours of rehearsal, the bassoon player let me in on a little secret: they've been playing that piece for at least six months. Phew.

Chinese teenagers use the same expression as American teenagers when they tell you you're stupid.
My company is hosting an event about how Chinese teenagers use social media (like Weibo) at Shanghai's Social Media Week at the end of September. My coworker and I headed to a local middle/high school with high hopes for our insightful, ethnographic skills. We even took this picture for the video ethnography section of the company website to illustrate how thrilling our methodology could be. 

This may come as a shock to you, but teenagers are mean! I hope you were sitting down for that one. We have an entire hour of riveting footage with various renditions of my new favorite audio tracks: "what kind of question is that?!" and "this is dumb." Thank you, teens of the world. You make my job worth doing.

Fourth in line, fortieth served.

 After a week of hard work trying to talk to angsty adolescents, Ping took me to the hottest new Lanzhou lamian restaurant in Shanghai. It's only one subway stop away from my work! Because it received amazingly high ratings on Weibo, we weren't the only ones on Friday night who decided we'd give it a try. 

Most of the Lanzhou lamian places in Shanghai are tiny, somewhat filthy hole-in-the-wall establishments with the same name, decor, and menu as the other fifteen Lanzhou lamian restaurants on their street. This was a different story. A spacious, two-floor eatery with transparent plexiglass between the eager customers and brilliant chefs, this place lived up to its reputation.

Both floors were crowded with impatient customers and we were told by an overworked, shrill waitress to wait in what can only barely be considered a "line". We waited obediently for a few minutes before realizing we'd never get a table that way. After observing stealthier customers, we followed suit in asking to join a nice, older couple at their four top. 

We both ordered beef lamian with thin noodles, sticks of grilled lamb meat, and a couple of dishes to share. The soup was delectable with fresh noodles and thin slices of beef. We really had to pace ourselves, stopping for small breaks and then heroically continuing our attempts to finish all the food. Needless to say, we failed. With satisfied smiles on our faces and buttons busting off our clothes, we headed home.

You're gonna need a bigger boat.

As a continuation of our super fun research on ever-pleasant teens' use of Weibo, we hosted a discussion group on Saturday. After another trying day of local adolescents ignoring our questions by playing on their phones (which ironically supported some of our initial hypotheses), I needed to let my hair down.

Lucky for me, Jacqueline was ready to go out!!! After lounging on Sugar's rooftop bar during their celebration of Mexican Independence Day, we headed to Park97. You think Dances with Wolves is awesome? Psh! We danced with SHARKS! 
That's right. There's an aquarium full of live sharks on the wall of the dance floor. (My dad's question: did you see any Jets there, too? It was too early when he said it for me to catch his reference to musical theater, but now I'm giggling away.)

We talked to a lot of people that night. I'd bet some of them were even decent human beings. However, I wouldn't know because the whole night, I was completely mesmerized by the shark tank.

After what I now deem was a successful weekend, I'm refreshed and ready to head back to work on Monday!

P.S. Be sure to check out my other daily photographs in the slideshow at the bottom!
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Wenying on

You meet Cao Peng????!!!!!! He is so famous!

skirbyskirby on

What is he famous for? I just read his wikipedia page. He's an awesome director!!!

Wenying on

Obviously, he is famous for directing....I always saw him on TV.

Murray on

It certainly sounds like you are having fun. Sharks and Jets, its kind of like Oles and Carls. We miss you. We had the temp agency out looking for you. Somehow (maybe?) we will get through peak without you, maybe. Certainly, not MVDCs. How do Chinese, bratty youth say MVDC? All the best!

skirbyskirby on

Well hey there, Murray!!

I believe MVDC in Chinese would be "机动车驾驶员认证". I'll be thinking about you guys this peak season!!

Nice to hear from you!

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