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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Evening with the Hofstees

Yesterday evening Michiel Hofstee picked me up after work and we went for drinks and dinner with his wife, Sandra. She took me to see the city the day before. Great afternoon. The whole works, of course: big car with driver. Very handy in the Shanghai streetwar. Walked through the old town (beautiful), stepped into Yuyuan gardens (very serene, though my book promised me 'hordes of tourists', it actually wasn't). Bought a small present for Marcel before driving to lunch and after that the opposite of old town: the streets where the rich buy their clothes. Think 3 Prada shops in one street, that sort of luxury overdone. If they are rich, they really are rich. But I did not come to wander around Armani stores, so we walked a little until we reached the market. Ah, that's what a Dutch man needs.
Anyway, we were having dinner and discussing the pros and cons of living in Shanghai. Michiel and Sandra were very convincing in their pros, so that's good. Walked over the Bund, took some lovely pics everybody will have in his picture book. And a great dinner in what I believe was called 'The Whampoa Club'. Michiel asked me my thoughts on Shanghai. Difficult to phrase. What comes to mind after one day? The people are different than I thought. I would have thought they would be a little withdrawn still, looking away from you. And serious, even on the verge of negative. Serious they are indeed, but also fun and laughter are all around. The taxi drivers look stern, but after you give them an unknown address (in my case, every time) they start laughing, asking in Chinese and phoning others, asking for directions cackling with laughter. And they can't read maps, I found out. I found a certain lightness in their life, also at the JWT offices. May be only Shanghai of course. After dinner we had drinks in Club M. Chic. Great evening. But after the second drink my mind refused to properly function. Could not play any part in a lively discussion anymore. Michiel and Sandra had to drive home, so we broke up. Thanks to both for a warm welcome.

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