Reality Check

Walking down the gorgeous , verdant , tree-lined streets in the former French Concession , one can sometimes forget they are in China. Yueyang Rd during the late evening/early night is a calm oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. You still might be killed by a speeding car driving the wrong way down the street with headlights off, but hey , so is life in Shanghai.

Walking by the triple intersections of Yueyang Rd , Dongping Rd, and Taojiang Rd , we are greeted the smells of freshly roast coffee, pungent Mediterranean food being grilled, and people eagerly seeking out the warmth and protection offered by the bars from the damp cold outside.

Signs advertise a proliferation of animal named sports bars : The Camel , The Beaver. Really , where in the world am I? Not exactly the first images that pop to mind when one thinks of China. I’m yanked out of my pondering by the appearance of a strange man in tattered , beaten clothes ahead. There is something in front of him , pulling him forward. It’s on a leash and headed my way!

As we near each other , I lock eyes with the man. He grins, and as if he sensed my initial state of bewilderment , and sought to answer me , to calm my brain, he answers and confirms what we both know to true.

He breaks out in a wide grin and exclaims “MONNNNKKEEEY” and unleashing a deep , booming laugh. He has used one of the three English words that he probably knows , the others being “hello” and “money”. I enjoy this sight very much. Some of the novelty of living in Asia has worn off and I’m not amazed like I would have been a few years ago. I’m not lost in my mind thinking “Was that really just real?” but instead am wondering “Shouldn’t that monkey have a little monkey coat? It’s nippy out here!”.

The monkey spell is broken a few paces later as an older woman beggar with a rent-a-child implores us for cash. I don’t like how the children are used to try to whip up sympathy (it’s not her child) plus I’d already given my change to the old guys sipping on some instant noodles in the Lawson doorway.

Yup, reality check. Still in SH.