One of the great traditions of Shanghai is "Pajama Walking." People of all ages, ALL TIMES OF YEAR, walk around town in their pajamas and slippers. No, these are not drunks or homeless people: it's a sign of affluence; if you're in your pajamas you don't have to work today; you are one of the fortunate ones.
On Saturday night, our lane gate was locked. Our daughter was coming home from a dance, and I had to let her in. The gate is down two lanes and about 100 yards from our lane house. So... you guessed it: I went pajama walking. Of course pajama walking at night and by day are two different statements. Mine was: I'm too lazy to change back into my clothes just to open the damn lane gate. But I was pajama walking none the less.
Then my dear friend Lyle Workman, film music composer and guitarist, iChatted our house because his lovely wife, Timi Workman, is staying with us, and I had to give Lyle my demonstration of pajama walking, because... well, I just had to.
So I've pajama walked twice in one week. A real local.
I'll try to snap some shots of various pajama walkers and post them, as you might get a kick out it!!
Keep your 'jammies clean and fresh -- you never know when you'll need them...
Consider a city of 17 million people. Now consider that if even a third of them drive, that's five million drivers a day on the streets. Now: picture Shanghai: trucks, buses (many sizes), vans (many sizes), taxis (one size fits all), cars of every kind, motor scooters, electric bikes, pedal bikes, pedestrians. On every street corner.
How to manage it? How do you prevent the California Roll, the New York blur? Well, how about put timers on all traffic lights. That's right: here in Shanghai, as your red or green light approaches the change, a HUGE timer goes off (where we in the USA put the amber light). It counts down, from either 30 or 15. The result: perfect order in perfect chaos. No one... I MEAN NO ONE violates the traffic lights (if you discount that "right on red" here means you treat a red light as a green as long as you're turning right; there is NO hesitation to make that turn; cars just zoom right around indifferent to anything or anyone). The timers tick down; the traffic moves. It is one of those painfully simple ideas that works phenomenally well.
One of the many benefits of this economy is inexpensive eyewear. I would say cheap, but it isn't true. It's quality stuff, and I'm VERY impressed with lens quality and the ability to get a blended prescription in the lens done properly. All this: frames AND blended lenses for about 60 dollars USD a pair. And in case you want variety, at the glasses mart there are approximately 700 MILLION pairs to chose from. Five floors of endless booths selling sun and eyeglasses.
I went there today to pick up a pair I had asked to be redone (3 of 4 pair came back perfect). I thought of the blog because I was in a sea of people. Here, where I live, on Changle Lu, on a walk up the street to the corner market I might pass a hundred people (1 block) with another several hundred passing ME in cars, on cycles, etc. Outside the glasses mart (a ways across Shanghai, by the Shanghai railway station) I walked the street with no fewer than 60,000 people in three blocks. I'm not kidding. I can measure this because I attend St. Louis Rams games, and I know what a sea of 60,000 people feels like. IT WAS PACKED. A heaving sea of human, and I, a small buoy bobbing in the froth, lugging my very heavy briefcase, in anticipation of picking up my very cheap (don't I mean "inexpensive?") glasses. It was an incredible experience, in part because today turned out to be fruit day. THE WEIRDEST looking fruit you've ever seen, being sold off towels on the edge of the sidewalk. Last week was T-shirt and socks and gloves day. They must rotate though who knows how it's decided. There I was, close enough to some of the people to father children, moving toward the eyeglass market and all I could think of was this blog. (and how I'd forgotten a camera!)
Here's 1 of my new pairs...
I return to the USA on Friday to speak at some middle schools and do a commencement and attend a book conference in New York. With time running out here, it's hard to leave. The family returns for good at the end of June, and it's with heavy heart.
After all: where will I buy my glasses?