Tuesday, December 19, 2006

D Day

This has been one of the lousiest days so far...I hate the 19th of December !!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Under the Shanghai Sun

I went to China with dual purposes. The official aim was to attend the IB Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on CAS (Mixed Level) at the Shanghai Jincai High School in Shanghai. The unofficial one was to pick up authentic Chinese chopsticks for an ever effervescent colleague.

Every morning and afternoon from the 27th to the 29th of October was devoted to the workshop. Steven Money, the workshop leader, was efficient, and the interaction with CAS Coordinators from all over the Asia-Pacific was productive. Language proved no barrier as Angrezi, pidgin or otherwise, ruled the roost.

The Shanghai streets were not so kind, and communication proved Greek, Latin and obviously, Mandarin. Consequently, buying chopsticks was the more complex task. A comparison of Shanghai and Mumbai was inevitable thanks to Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh's rhetoric of an impending metamorphosis.

The Chinese metropolis is divided into two parts by the Huangpu river. Acting as a timeline, the water body cuts the city into the old Puxi ( West Bank) area and the newly developed Pudong (East Bank) area. While symmetrical Pudong sent my sense of direction wandering, Puxi was more familiar with its Fort like colonial aura.

At night, Shanghai dazzles electrically (they apparently have no load shedding worries) on both sides of the Bund that separates the two banks. The Jade Buddha temple, the Yu Yuan Gardens, the French Concession and the Pearl Culture centre, amongst others, are worth a dekko. The architecture is uniformly futuristic and the landscaping meticulous. The plethora of Pizza Huts and Starbucks is proof of an economy in transition.

However, the perfect pièce de résistance loses its gilt when one comes across the impecunious begging for a few Yuan, albeit, no Dharavi is in sight. The duplicate market thrives in spite of official bans, and is reminiscent of Chor Bazaar. Disparity, though effaced, is present.

Despite the obvious cracks, Shanghai remains a city worth emulating. But is displacing and dislocating 70,000 slum dwelling families going to transform the ugly step sister into Cinderella?

We can only wait for the fairy godmother !!