Ben’s dad, the boss of both the Singapore and Shanghai offices of our company, visited this past Tuesday. So prior to his arrival, our staff and managers frantically ran around the office in order to make proper preparations. Managers demanded reports, the operations team organized piles and piles of paperwork and maintenance scrubbed away at desks and floors until they could see their beautiful faces shining back. Feeling guilty for not having much to contribute, I decided to do my part by slapping on my best blouse and pants to add to the professional image of the office. Hey, I’ll dress to impress. But luckily, he came during the days in which I had the most to do, so I kept busy. Raise, validated.
We had lunch at the famous 小南国 (xiao nan guo) or Shanghai Spring restaurant, in which serves traditional Shanghainese food in a swanky setting. It’s always a plus to eat with the boss and managers as lunching with your superiors means superior indeed. And yes my friends, it was a Can-Can on my tastebuds.
Ben’s dad is a hilarious man. He loves to tell funny stories and even joke about the most controversial topics like religion and politics. Censorship is not his style, which creates a mix of tense yet funny conversations, because despite disagreeing or feeling offended, you just gotta go Johnny Tightlips and slap on a smile out of respect for the big man.
Example of how one conversation went:
Mr. Pang: “Tammy is a Christian you know. Shiny, what religion are you again?”
Shiny: “I’m Buddhist, Boss!”
Mr. Pang: “Buddhist?! Oh, you mean Bu—-llshit!”
Because Monday was 清明节 (qing ming jie) or “Ancestors Day/Tomb Sweeping Day,” we got the day off. Three-day weekend, hellz yeah!
Although I did not do anything too exciting, my weekend was still very much enjoyable.
Saturday, I had webcammed my family as Amy and my dad drove back up for the weekend. I absolutely love these moments, as it’s usually right when my family finishes dinner, which also means that my dad has had his fair share of brandy. My mother and aunt’s excitement accompanied by my dad’s silliness from intoxication, as well as my two sisters’ pure hilarity makes for heart-warming and gut-busting conversation. There is a specific type of laughter you can only get from your loved ones, where it’s deep-sounding and good to the soul. Mm..just like Campbell’s.
Webcam with the Fam
Afterward, I met up with Levi for our tutoring session. Normally, we would go out and meet at a cafe to study, but because he had heard that I cook for myself quiet often (at least 5 days a week), he was curious about my cooking skills. I’m not Iron Chef or Emeril, but I thought I’d do something nice so agreed to cook up a few dishes for him. So let’s see what was on the menu:
Appetizer: Soup with napa cabbage, chinese sausage, dried shrimp, green onions, cilantro and rice cake.
Main Course: Porkchops marinaded with soy sauce, garlic and ginger + Beef stir-fry with bean sprouts, yellow chives, king oyster mushrooms, garlic, green onions and some cilantro.
Levi said he had enjoyed the dishes, so that was good.
So after tutoring and dinner, Levi and I decided to get some milk tea from 85 degrees Celsius. I absolutely love their 英式奶茶 or “British Milk Tea.” I like to get it hot, and have gotten used to sipping it threw a straw like everyone else. They also put that plastic seal on top that I used to think was only made for cold drinks, but I guess it does just fine.
After returning to my apartment, I then had another webcamming session with Charles just as he woke up. Staying up was no problem, as the milk tea surely kept me up until 5am. What the hell’s in those babies?!?
The Easter service for church was quite enjoyable, as we had an awesome performance from the Shanghai Lights Ensemble who sang “Oh, Happy Day.” I wanted to get up and jump on stage to dance away like Whoopi in Sister Act 2.
Sing it, ladies!
On my extra day off of work, I decided first head to Starbucks to enjoy a delicious cup of Americano with a toasted blueberry muffin. I had some quiet time and reflection, which was something I had not been able to do much this past week. The atmosphere of the cafe really helped me to focus, as I went through Psalms 119. The sofa was also extremely comfortable, as I had forgotten such comfort even existed after having slept on a hard, springy bed and placing by caboose on things that can be rough on my back.
Then afterward, I headed to 八佰伴(BaBaiBan)/Nextage Department Store which is a ginormous 10-story to do a little shopping. I browsed around my favorite store, Uniqlo , but found nothing. But I did find a cute skirt from H&M for 99RMB (~15USD).
Thoughts? (sorry for the bad picture quality)
I also treated myself to dinner at a Japanese dinner. Got my favorites: grilled mackerel and salmon sashimi. I was tempted to get another favorite, Beef Yakitori stuffed with enoki, but refrained. Yes, I have SOME self-control.
Now I’m relaxing, and cooking up some wintermelon soup for lunch tomorrow (and perhaps the next few days).
I’ve officially decided to come home in 6 months. As of now, I am 80-90% sure I want to go back to school and pursue an MBA. During my time here, God has reignited my passions for a career that would allow me to work in the field of microfinance. More specifically, I want to be able to advise borrowers on how to best use their loans to jumpstart a business that would benefit them in their situation, accounting for dozens of factors including ecological environment, economy, household, market demands, etc. Many families have had the great opportunity to obtain a loan, but often do not know how to best invest their money. One particular story in which I had heard from Charles’ close family friends had really opened my eyes to what I could do with a business degree. Mr. Hicken had talked about a family in Mexico who had received a loan and decided to open a cattle farm. The problem was that they lived on a steep hill, which led to a plunging death for many of their cattle. Many of you right now may think, well DUH, why would they even think to do that? But the reality is, many families are limited in their skills and resources, so often do not think to do otherwise. They do what they know in which they’ve come to learn in their environment. So my hope is to be able to impart valuable knowledge and assist in what I can—to be able to expand their possibilities even further than they themselves can imagine. Praise God for passion and direction. I just hope this is the right path. I’ve really learned how global and great God really is during my time here in Shanghai, and even more so the way this world needs Him. A big world needs a big God to solve big problems. Let’s do this Big-G.