Boxing Day 2008

December 26, 2008

It’s almost the end of 2008. Time flies. I know I’ve said this countless times, I still feel that I cannot express it enough. Looking at my friend’s son’s pictures, I suddenly got the feeling of my parents. When I was a kid, I always heard them chatting with their friends saying that looking at the kids growing fast, they felt they were getting old. Maybe Chinese parents all like to say that.

Since I left Toronto in June, I have somewhat stopped blogging. On average I have had less than 2 posts per month. The first two months I did try to blog. However, many websites were blocked by the Chinese government, which was quite discouraging. Then school work started piling up and I just did not have time. (Surprisingly, I found the website blockage has been somehow relaxed a bit lately. Not sure if that’s true; it’s just my general feeling.)

Life has taken on another direction. In 2004, I changed from school to work, and started blogging. In 2008, I changed from work to school. It’s definitely a challenge keeping this up. In Shanghai, I still eat out and collect cards, but it’s almost impossible to recap restaurant visits the way I did it back in the old days. I’d say this is an adjustment period. I’ll be back.

The other night JK, MR and I (our dining trios) came out again. This time was at Bymark. On our way to the TD Center, JK started mentioning about my blog and I right away knew what she was going to say – yes, all my posts in the past few months have been in Chinese. I ought to admit, my creative writing is much better in Chinese. That’s why during the emotional period, I opted for Chinese posts. Sorry, JK! (And those of you who might have visited and thought “darn, it’s all in Chinese”)

I foresee this post is going to be very long. Like, I have not chatted with an old friend, and tonight I have much to say.

I came back to Toronto in mid-December and scheduled some gatherings with friends and families. The word “schedule” does sound a bit official/formal, but for the amount of work involved to get everyone together, I think it’s quite a task. Many of you may have experienced similar situation – got a 2-week vacation and went back to where you have friends and relatives. On one hand, you want to lay low and take it easy; on the other hand, you just want to make it worth the effort to take the 12+ hour flight. After all, it’s the people that matter. As long as you are willing to pay, you can buy almost anything in Shanghai.

However, sometimes after cycles of scheduling-and-rescheduling, I feel that I should just go with the flow. A lot of the time you just cannot force it. Plus, I need a balance as well. The first three nights after I came back, I slept really well. But after that, it has been quite miserable. Maybe it’s the jetlag. So, the final decision was to take it easy and not seeing anyone during Dec 24-26th. I don’t want to arrive in Shanghai on Jan 2 and feel that I have spent a whole vacation just to tire myself even more.

Life in Shanghai:

I got asked about this in every single gathering – just like the first time I came back from Hong Kong in 2001. Overall I like it so far. It’s Shanghai, and I have been to different parts of China, so I wasn’t expecting a huge shock. I live on campus in Pudong (east side), but most of the hotspots and night scenes are in Puxi (west side). Therefore, I don’t party very often. Most of the time, I eat at the school canteen – and I have started to hate it after the first 2 months.

CEIBS is very similar to the North American universities. First, I have studied Commerce during undergrad; second, I’ve been taught in English since 15+ years ago, MBA hasn’t been a huge challenge to me so far. That was also part of the reasons why I ran for a position in the MBA Student Committee. Now, I’m the External Affairs Director at the Committee. Fancy name, eh? So, what the hell do I have to do? In essence, many events that relate to external parties fall on to my plate. For instance, B-school competitions – I have to facilitate the information flows and selection process of school teams; school visits – in January we will have a group of USC Marshall students visiting us; inter-school sports competitions, and hopefully I can organize some community work next year. Yup, that’s what I’ve been doing and busy with in the past few months. I hate idling. At least, this way I could contribute something to the school and also learn something from this experience. Literally, I haven’t really studied except preparing for group meeting, group assignments and flipping over the lecture notes once or twice before the midterms/finals. I guess, next term is going to be different. I won’t be able to rely on what I’ve learned in undergrad anymore. Chinese students are in general very very very studious. So I should also play a bit safer.

Out of the school work, the part that everyone hates is group work. It just sucks up all our time. After the first term, many of us have the feeling that we have been very busy everyday but we ain’t sure what we have achieved. The first term, I was pretty lucky that all my group members are good team players. Otherwise, my life would have been miserable. -_-

Yes, I got like 4-5 hours of sleep every night during the first 2 months ‘coz I was stretching myself.

Study hard + work hard + play hard = sleep less.

This equation is not sustainable at all when you are in your late-20s. I kinda got sick here and there, so I figured I should really get a balance. i.e. Discount the equation on the left side, and increase my sleeping hours – get a life.

As you can see, during the past few months I have been trying to adjust and find the point of balance. Oh, yes. Something very important = food. The canteen food is high oil, high MSG and high salt. I have not yet found a solution to that. Sigh. (Treasuring my time in Toronto when I can still get my home-made food).

Shopping in Shanghai – I’m serious! I haven’t done any major shopping in Shanghai so far. The reasons are: 1. I don’t like to bargain and/or get rip off; 2. if I go brand name, I would end up paying more than I would if I were to buy in Hong Kong and/or Toronto. HK is still a shopping paradise.

Random thoughts since I got back to Toronto:

– Wow! My bamboos have grown really tall now.

– What? Only half a year, Dominion’s is now called Metro?

– Good. Now we have SilverCity (instead of Rainbow) at Fairview Mall.

– There are quite some new apartments near Bayview/Sheppard area.

– OMG, now we have Bath and Body Work and A/X! Yorkdale Mall is definitely THE mall now. I’m thinking, what’s next? Cheesecake Factory?

– Had my first brunch in Toronto with TW, then realized how cold Toronto really is! Discovered a cool paper store. It’s always nice to walk on Queen Street.

– Jay Chou’s first concert! Thank to DC, I got excellent seat for free! Lots of flashbacks while listening to his songs. In 2000 I first heard of his songs in HK. Then his songs have accompanied me through good times and tough times – my hardcore karaoke days and even when I was taking trains alone in Tokyo. That’s why I had such a high expectation for his concert. Overall, it was great, but I expected it to be a bit different. Not sure how, but just different. Also, looking at the crowd that night, I felt old -_-|||

– Finally had the first dinner with EL and SC in 2 years. I’m glad that even after so long, I still feel like a family. One day, I wasn’t in a good mood, but when I walked to their store, I just couldn’t help smiling. I was amazed. Really thankful – as I know it’s not easy to have such natural feeling with someone.

– Saw my grandma. 91 years old and still in pretty good condition. For the first time, I helped her in the toilet. I suddenly have this strong feeling about “life”. After this trip, I don’t know when I can see her again.

– Had a gathering at KL and LL’s place. After being their wedding MC, I witnessed them moving to a new house, and now they are going to have their first baby. There goes another life event. I sincerely wish them all the best. And of course, same for all my dear friends. I know I’ll receive a lot of “red bombs” in 2009-2010. For those who are still single, I’m sure you will meet your Mr./Ms. Right soon. Meeting and falling in love with someone is fate, but being with someone takes effort.

On New Year Day, I’ll be flying out again – long journey ahead. I don’t know if I can see all my friends in Toronto, so I’ll send all my best wishes to you here. I hope we all have a happy and healthy new year. No matter what happen, let’s remember there is hope and love. Be kind to others especially those who are close to you because we tend to forget about them.

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