Friday, March 19, 2010

"Do you know the PLA? We're having lunch with them."

That's right. On Friday (yesterday), I got a phone call while walking out of my chinese class from my boss to meet her for lunch right away. Fortunately, I didn't have any plans. I met her by her new 2010 BMW that she drives (scary that she doesn't have a driver!! Most people here do). She also invited a Fudan Graduate student which both my boss and this girl are getting their masters degree in psychology. My boss is also a professor at Fudan in the art school.

So we were off, heading down the scary roads of Shanghai. My boss said, "Do you know the PLA? Peopla's Liberation Ary? Yes, we're having lunch with them. I reserved a private room that's hard to get in a hotel. We will have tea at the top floor where there's a garden and then eat lunch."

I must admit, I was a little intimidated by not only having lunch with my boss and these officers (who I've come to the conclusion is actually superwoman and literally is Ms. Entrepreneur of Shanghai), but also uncomfortable that they couldn't speak English and I couldn't really speak/understand Chinese. The Fudan girl was trying to translate for me what they were saying during the whole escapade. What a life saver!

When we arrived in the elaborate dining room, with a draping chandelier, a table as big as 4 dining room tables, and fine silk drapery over every window and wall, there was a little confusion of who was going to sit. There were 4 PLA members and 3 of us from Fudan. Even though I couldn't understand, I could see they were discussing who was going to sit in the chair across from the door (which means the most important person at a meal will sit there). Finally, one PLA member sat in that "special chair" and the meal began.

So in the middle of the large table - oh an the seat were all spaced out in an awkward way, leaving too much room between each person so it was difficult to converse?! - there was a lazy susan spinning electronically that held all the dishes on it. And boy were the dishes gourmet!!! The PLA members made me try a fish, a whole fish about 6 inches long, and had a guy put it on my plate. Yes, I was forced to eat the head/tail...everything!!! was pretty tasty actually because it was fried, but still not my 1st choice of food to eat...I also had a soup with turtle and a whole squid. I pretended to take a bit but then just put it back...thought that if I just at the broth, they wouldn't get too offended. (Grandpa! I ate birds nest soup!! Yum. And we put coconut and honey in it. I'm so glad I knew what that was thanks to you!)

Another odd thing about this dinner was the number of toasts! We all were served wine and the PLA guys kept getting up and making a toast to each person. My boss told me later that it's custom for the hosting party to make a toast to each person on the opposing party. And could these men drink their wine! It was 12:30pm and they were already loving life... :)

My head was spinning while I tried to pick up on words they were saying, putting my 7 days of Chinese class into good use. Surprisingly, I heard words I knew and tried to figure out their conversations!! Exciting...Yes, Chinese ask odd's just some that I was asked...

*(by my boss) "So Lindsay, do you workout or what? What do you do to keep fit?"
*(PLA officer) "Do you think the People's Liberation Army is fancy? Do you like the PLA?"

...and here's a statement they said about America...

*(PLA officer) "We think that Americans 16yrs old and younger are cute, but when they are older than 16 they aren't very good looking anymore."

Thank you?! SO ODD...not sure if they knew I was 21...haha.

The whole reason for the meeting with my boss was to discuss business possibilities. She wants to open a restaurant/bar and also a spa. That is why she is superwoman...she owns a large electrical engineering company, teaches at Fudan University, is getting her masters in psychology at Fudan, has written 2 bit-hit books, produced and screen wrote a movie, and is now opening new businesses. = Ms. Entrepreneur.

At the end of lunch, I practiced a bit of my chinese saying "it was nice to meet you" to the PLA officers...


To top if off, my boss Ms. Zhang Lu gave me a leather note book, a bottle of ice wine beer, 2 tickets to the Expo2010, and ticket to a lecture at the end of the month.

Not sure what my actual work is at this internship but I'm appreciative for the networking and cultural inside taste I'm getting of the business in China.

More to come! Annalise Larson from Hope College is coming to visit for the week!!! We're going out to dinner tonight with her parents who are Expats here in Shanghai who have so kindly taken me in and is my family away from home. Should be a fun night and exciting week to have a little bit of "Hope" here...


Chaeles Bagli said...

mann i love bird's nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there XD

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