Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Little Consistency Goes a Long Way- Gymnastics in Shanghai

I took the wee one to gymnastics. We had used and loved the same company in DC and New England. I found a franchize here and though it would offer familiarity. One month into Shanghai and we both needed a regular routine, not just the start of one, but one that made us feel like we are home.

The adventure started in the taxi, as it always does. I wrote the directions in English, pinyin, and in characters. Explained everything to the guard at the compound gate and then he hailed the taxi. Getting in we thought that we may or may not end up at the right place.

With only a few circles and a little confusion we found the gym inside a mall. This location was a little different as all are, but all the same colors and branding. The people did speak some English- good start. I hoped she would jump in, but history suggested she will need a couple of sessions to adjust.

There are four coaches in the room, already better odds than DC. Everything was in Chinese, but one coach always sat next to her translating the directions into English. Within 10 minutes she left the corner and started running with the supportive coach and the other kids. 5 minutes later and she was confidently on her own.

She did really well modeling the coaches, because initially she couldn't understand the Chinese directions. I was amazed at how quickly she stopped watching the coaches for cues and followed the directions by sound. Maybe continuity is the key for this life.

I watched the whole time. Her confidence soared as she danced and hammed for the coaches. I looked at my phone to answer a text and when I looked up she was in tears, blood and tears. She had fallen. Damn it! So much for positive associations. 

Cleaned up she headed back to the mats. No more dancing and laughing, but she did okay. I am so proud of her for walking into a room of strangers, strangers speaking a foreign language, and bravely participating, even excelling.

We ended our adventure on toilets. A restaurant with toilets for chairs, urinals on the walls, and everything on the menu looking and sounding like a euphemism for things done in the bathroom. Eating chocolate ice cream out of a miniature porcelain throne, we enjoyed the beginning of an excellent Sunday routine.

Post Script: As you may have noticed these blogs are out of order. Many are half written, or written, but awaiting edit time. This was one such post. Gymnastics was in September. She refused to return. I wondered why, but she only said that she didn't like it and wanted to change to ballet. After enrolling her in ballet, she admitted two things. The change was due to her new best friend in school, who was also enrolled in ballet. The other, she was afraid she would fall again. The fall was just minutes before the end of the session and she didn't quite recover. She is actually quite good. I hope this isn't the end of gymnastics.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hashing in Country Number Three (Updated)

In an effort to find something enjoyable in Shanghai, I again pursued the H3. I miss Lesotho. There are a lot of features to miss, but mostly I miss the expat community. They usually found themselves at one time or regularly hiking with the local chapter of the Hash House Harriers. We attended most every weekend. 
This one runs a little differently. I found myself in the circle on the second hike reminding both of my children that "what is said on the hash, stays at the hash." The double entendres are singularly risqué. And oh boy, the vocabulary is more than earmuffs can handle. It is a good thing that the kind soul corresponding with me via email pointed me towards the most family friendly chapter of the six in town. Note to self: I have to remember to fine my son at the next meeting for interrupting dinner with, "time to grease the beer ayi!"(translation: time for the beer bitches or booze master to take a drink)
The kids are amazing. No longer am I carrying one or both, instead I am chasing them. Ted runs most of the way. He doesn't have quite the stamina to do the whole thing and walks a bit with me and Josie.  Josie whines out of habit, but does really well. I am so proud of these guys. They are walking several kilometers and I would guess Ted is running at least 2 or 3 straight. I am out of breath chasing him. 

The hash is a great way to get a little exercise, meet some new and interesting people, and especially get out of the city. So far we have explored a water town surrounded by lotus and another town actively harvesting rice. Walking along the mud paths between the rice patties was a new experience. We watched the harvest and the practice of stacking it in the road. I have a new respect for rice. It occurred to me that I have only ever viewed rice as a bag on the grocery store shelf. The process was interesting and I wish I was not running through the town, but lingering to observe. The strange part about Shanghai is that the sky looks like is about to storm, but that is just the pollution. We are getting out to see nature and the countryside, but everything is in shades of grey. 
This particular hash has a party bus and a traditional Chinese dinner afterwards. Quite nice. I do find that I greatly miss the touch of sophistication brought by Off Off, but I think we will see this through. 

Hashing over the canals of a water town.

Shirtless man in a dingy just floating on the canal. Every once in a while he would shout to Ted, encouraging the boy to jump in. I had a hard time holding the boy back. 

A little different running through a market. Holy cow my butt is huge. Seriously have to start doing something about that, the last 6 months have not been kind.  
The Beijing belly.

Waiting to circle up.

Hash hold/Beer Stop 

Don't let the picture fool you, the Tsingtao bottles are 950ml! Not a wise decision to drink three that night.

P.S. Dear hash mistress, please forgive me for plagiarizing portions of our emails. 
P.S.S. Please excuse the terrible grammar. In an effort to get one posting out a week, I have skimped on editing.