“The journey not the arrival matters.” –T.S. Eliot
IT’S GETTING REAL.
I just completed my visa application form for the People’s Republic of China. Melinda is tentatively scheduled to fly over for business, on August 19th (although these trips have been canceled and rescheduled before). I will follow on the 23rd and we will commence our”Look-See” visit., however, China’s infamous smog may prevent much seeing, making the trip more of a look, feel and taste (the air). While there, we will meet with a member of the relocation team and get our mandatory Chinese physical–bend over and say Ayiiiii!–; she will also introduce us to our real estate assistant who will assist us in finding an apartment and negotiating the lease. We will only be in Shanghai for 5 days, but long enough to get a feel for the city, locate Melinda’s office, and identify some possible neighborhoods in which to find a home. Ideally, we’d like to be within walking distance of her office, but, like any other city, we’ll need to see what the rents are in that area (High!) , where the nearest grocery store is located–learned that 1 Liter of “good” milk costs $6-$10 USD– and what the traffic and noise is like, during the day and at night. One thing is for certain, unlike the past 13 years living in the Pacific Northwest, the weather in Shanghai demands that we have air conditioning–that and the color of the air demands that windows are kept closed–. Currently, Shanghai is experiencing the hottest summer in 140 years of record keeping and the past couple of weeks the temperature has exceeded 100 degrees almost every day, making the expression “street food” a quite literal description of where it is cooked– (with heat indexes adding an additional 10 degrees). Hot. Sticky. Dirty Air.
We return from this trip on Melinda’s birthday, August 29th and we’ll have three weeks before James returns to school for his Fall quarter and the moving company comes to pack up and ship our household. There is, literally, a slow boat to China, it takes 30 – 60 days to receive your household goods, While we wait for our furnishings and search for the right apartment, we’ll have temporary housing, with a car and driver– I plan on taking full advantage of this perk “Driving Mr. Thom” will be a daily thing for thoi– (My wife is adamant that I will not drive while living in China, but seriously, I drove a taxi in NYC for 2 years, how much worse can it be in China?) Once we select our long-term housing we will be responsible for our own transportation. Our plan, such as it is, is to be settled in our apartment by December 1st, in time to prepare for the arrival of our children for Christmas in Shanghai.