Posted: July 24, 2010 in holiday

(This is going to be a long post and a gist of my experience for my own future reference, so if you’re interested in reading my experience, hop along and don’t complain!)

I’ve always said to my juniors, ” If you’re at IIT, don’t miss out on two things: ‘RD’ & ‘FT’ “. RD (short for RDC, which is short for ‘Rural Development Center’) refers to a virtually zero-workload course that hands out grades like they grew on trees, while FT (short for ‘Foreign Training’) is the opportunity of attaining an internship abroad, spending most of the time exploring rather than working. Since I must practice what I preach, I landed up in Shanghai for my 3rd & final internship (Yes, I’ve already taken up RD). Being interested in working for an automotive industry, I applied for an industrial training at auto-manufacturers and was lucky enough to land with Volkswagen (although my primary choice was Wolfsburg, not Shanghai).

Day 1 (May 22, 2010): I reach the airport and can’t find the person who is supposed to pick me up (Mr. Yu). Left my luggage in the corner and left to look for him. I returned within half a minute and VOILA!! No more luggage!! I’m thinking
A) Lol, and I thought India was bad!
B) How long was I gone for?
C) Where’s the guy who’s supposed to pick me up ?
in that order.

So much for a walm welcome! Ran around looking for it but in vain. Found Mr. Yu finally and explained my situation. He searched along with me, then contacted the police, who checked the surveillance cameras and found a group of people scooting away with my stuff as soon as I left it! I was told they would try to track them down, and that I should be happy for atleast having my wallet and my passport with me. How could I be happy being a stranger with no belongings in a land where most of the people don’t even get what I’m saying! Long story short, the people with my luggage were tracked down by the license plates of the vehicle they left in (Surveillance cameras FTW!) and contacted. Turns out it was some douchebag tourist group that just took up all the luggage trolleys they could find around their people! Got my luggage within a day…KUDOS to Shanghai Airport Cops \m/ .

Day 3: My first day at work. My supervisor is a German guy who moved in from the main VW office in Wolfsburg recently, and boy, is he one hell-of-a-guy!! He laughs all the time and explains everything with so much passion and fun (Quote: “Sometimes we test them by overcharging them, but some of the batteries aren’t too happy about it & explode”) and he’s german for sure. He gives me hints and tips on partying and having fun here, explains the company goals and how they plan to take over a major share of the market with awesome passion, gives me a ride in his…..yeah, Volkswagen, and rides like a maniac with his ass on fire! I LOVE THIS GUY!

Day 4: My work is based on new energy and hybrid vehicles (ones that use both fuel and electricity). Not gonna bore you with the details. The weather continues to keep my happy. Temperature never goes above 23 and is windy some of the times. Socializing is a bitch, though. Other than the students and the people at work, the locals have no clue of wtf I’m saying. I have to point at stuff to buy them and yet they look at me like I’m standing naked, doing the hula dance.

Day 6: Chinese Television is just plain sad for foreigners! Not even a single English channel. Turns out the Chinese government has banned all non-Chinese channels and has made dish antennas that can catch international channels illegal!! That’s pure BS!! This was one of the many instances I found myself cursing the Chinese government during my stay. Even the locals loath the government and have repeatedly expressed their hatred for it to me.
Check out this Youtube vid I made in dedication to the Chinese television………

Day 8: One word: LOUD! That’s what Chinese are. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that as an offensive statement. It’s just the way they are accustomed to. A phone conversation, a chat in a restaurant….whatever the case may be, you’ll see them shouting away to the point that it seems to be an argument rather than a conversation.
Moved into an international dorm today, which should help me with meeting new people. Made some German & American friends who are exchange students here for the semester. How they interact in the classes, let alone learn the courses offered, is beyond me.

Day 10: Checked out the main city today, including the famous “Bund” or as its known in Chinese, “Wai Tan”. In one mile, you can see fifty-two buildings of many architectural styles, such as Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic, Beaux-Arts, Neo-Classical, Baroque, and Art Deco. Had company of a Chinese friend, Henry (his “English name” obviously), who was visiting Shanghai as well. A ferry ride along the river, a walk in the park and some snaps with a newly wed couple later, I decided to head back.

Day 13: Its surprisingly hard to find a huge person around here! Guess thats the effect the chinese cuisine has. Don’t get me wrong, it is great! It tastes wonderful but I guess its the fact that most of the stuff is steamed or boiled, that makes it so good for you. You’ll rarely find fried food here. If you see a fat Chinese, he’s probably been to the local KFC one too many times.

Day 15: Weekend#2!! The day started with me heading downtown to Shanghai Tattoo (, to have a chat with Zhuo Dan Ting, one of the best tattoo artists in the country. Later met up with my friend Rong ( and not-so-surprisingly, she is often wrong, which is why we got lost in the subway on all the wrong trains :/ ) for a trip around the city. Had a great time with her, having traditional Chinese cuisine, and visiting Hongqiao (an art gallery, her idea…) and Dapuqiao, a commercial circle with very tight alleys , busy with foreigners and filled with restaurants, art shops etc.

Day 21: My boss leaves for Germany for a week on official business. The opportunity is too tempting, so I end up skipping work and on a trip to Beijing :D. A wonderful place and I must say, the great wall is REALLY GREAT! Was approached by random asian folks quite a few times who wanted to have a snap taken with me! Closest I’ll get to feeling like a celebrity I guess….. A 3 day stay at Beijing took care of Ming Tombs, The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Tiananmen Square. The nights were spent in my hotel bar getting to know new people and playing foosball. After all this time in China, the best time I had was while having drinks with my new friends from around the world and watching the first game of the FIFA World Cup 2010.

On my last day in Beijing, took a trip to the Donghua Yeshi Night market for feasting on delicacies such as scorpions, squids, frog legs, snakes etc. Ummmm…. OM NOM NOM NOM!! Check out the vid:
Was also approached by a bunch of hookers, inviting me for a “massage” xP

Day 28: Another weekend in Shanghai…. this one was quite a quiet one with me hanging with some friends and travelling to the People’s Square and Nanjing Road for passing some time. Great places to go shopping and check out one of the biggest commercial hubs in Shanghai. Turns out its one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. Later I head to a tattoo studio to talk to a tatt artist about some issues I’ve been having regarding my tatt design.

It saddens me to not be able to experience Shanghai at night since I hear the city is just stunning after dark. I live quite far from downtown, in order to be close to my workplace. So I’m never able to stay late in the city. I plan to rent a room in some hotel downtown for one of the weekends for a night city tour, night photography of this amazing city, and some clubbing at one of the many happening places here.

Day 35: This is THE DAY! The day I get inked!! But first I head to the Grand Mercure to meet my friend from college, Rohan, who is visiting China before starting work at Singapore a month later. Not due for my tatt appointment till noon, so decided to visit the Shanghai Zoo with my Chinese friend, Rong, for killing some time. But alas, fate had other plans! Lot of mishap on the subway where I found out the station I intended to use was closed for construction, the station for changing to another line was closed and being used via another one blah blah…. Was too late for the zoo so just spent some time with Rong at Zongshan Park and got to the Tattoo Studio after lunch.

After a little discussion with the artist and a few changes from my part to the design, we got down to it. Two and a half hours of needles piercing my upper arm like a sewing machine and finally was pleased with the outcome. My idea to create this design was for the tribal pattern to depict the the energy/forces running through us and the Yin Yang symbol (a.k.a Tai-Chi in Chinese) to show the balance between different aspects of everything. So basically the design denotes the balance necessary in life in everything we do which makes the things perfect.

Day 41: Got off work and got dressed for one hell of a night. Met up with my Australian friend Chen downtown at 2130. We met up with Paul (French) & Philip (Canadian) and had a few drinks before heading on to Murals for a crazy night. Got drunk, grooved with the girls, and woke up the next day in some hotel in the city with a bad headache. I leave a note for my other friends cause they are too stoned to be waking up anytime soon, and leave for my place. A hot bath and a nap later, I check my mail to find Chen talking about another party we should check out soon.

Later that night I catch the football game between Germany & Argentina with some of my Chinese friends, and damn!! Was that an ass whooping or what! 4-0 with Argentina! Deutschland is sure on fire this world cup… Maybe its time to bring up the issue of a raise with my boss xP

Day 49: And it ends….the football world cup ends with Spain taking the throne. Certainly not the kind of world cup everyone predicted. No Brazil, no Argentina, no Portugal, no France, no England……But fun nevertheless! On a side note, I was at H&M with Rong the other day and I looked at a few shirts to find this written : “Made in Bangladesh” and I’m like “WTF! They make stuff for the whole world but get their stuff from Bangladesh!?” (o.0)… Spent this weekend meeting my few close friends downtown, and having my last drinks and goodbyes with them, since this is going to be the last weekend for me in Shanghai city. Irrespective of what my overall experience in China may have been, I’m going to miss Rong & Amy after I head back.

Also bought a tripod from a photography heaven at Luban Road, after struggling through the 24/7 rains that Shanghai has suddenly started showering on me(which is how I ended up buying an overpriced umbrella from a smirking street vendor). Must say, it is quite a sight to see hundreds of Chinese hustle on the roads with their umbrellas. Tried my hands on a few night shots, but it may be a while before I get the hang of getting good night snaps. Looking forward to my Xi’An trip next weekend, which would put an end to my China sight-seeing spree.

Day 52: Quote of the day: “We try to design a strong interior cabin for the driver so that during a crash, it does not deform and hence, protects the driver. But since Chinese don’t wear seat-belts, it doesn’t matter cause after the crash they’re not in the cabin anyway..”
This was my boss’s colleague from ‘Accident Research’ who just came down for a day from Germany.

I’ve decided not to visit the World Expo. It’ll probably get me some raised eyebrows back home but I’m not interested in wasting my entire day standing in ridiculously long queues just to visit 3-4 pavilions of other countries, while being pushed and shoved around by swarms of Chinese people (speaking from experience of some of my friends)…. It just doesn’t make sense when there’s so much more that can be done instead!!

Day 59: Back from Xi’An. Must say that after witnessing Beijing, I didn’t find Xi’An as special as I hoped. Sure, the Terracotta warriors have a rich history and look magnificent, but when I saw everything that is around those statues for promoting them, it just seems like milking the hell out of a frail dying cow. Then came the Big Goose Pagoda, followed by a bike ride on the City Wall, which was the only real fun part here, unfortunately. I can’t help it but I’m just not a history buff.

Spent the night hanging out with some new friends I made at my hotel and the next day checking out the city and the Muslim Street. In case you couldn’t figure, its a street comprising mostly of muslim shops (SURPRISE SURPISE!) which range from eateries to souvenirs. That was it for Xi’An. I can conclude now that for those who want to witness the modern China, Shanghai is the place to be. If you fancy more for the China a few hundred years old but in a balance with the modern world, go to Beijing. For the ones who wish to experience a few thousand years old China, visit Xi’An, cause there are many parts there which have not been “modernized” yet, and this can really give you the feel which you might have expected before coming to China. Time to head back to Shanghai for my final week at work!

Day 64 (July 24, 2010): Hectic week. Was given the most important assignments at work during the last week. The fact that a hot new German trainee joined this week did not help speed up my task.

The final day wound up pretty well. Got some good work done and my boss surprised me by taking me and a couple of other colleagues working with us to a great place for a nice traditional Chinese lunch, at the end of which he thanked me for my contributions and gifted me with a Volkswagen Souvenir 🙂 . One can only dream of having such a great guy for a superior. At the end of the day, I took a few snaps with them and parted ways.

I write this last part as my flight takes me home. Time to bid adieu to this unique country. The language can be an issue, the people are loud, the queues can be long, the goods may be duplicate 😉 ; but at the end of the day, the locals are immensely friendly and benevolent, the provinces beautiful with a rich culture and heritage, the cities vibrant with energy, the customs unique and intriguing, and the country ever so inviting…..

  1. Guy says:

    There’s a way around waiting in long queues, maybe i’ll fill you in the next time you head there and decide to visit the expo 🙂

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  3. May says:

    interesting ^_^

  4. murthy says:

    Left my luggage in the corner and left to look for him.

    WTF. Were you freaking nuts?

  5. murthy says:

    Awesome diary! ENVY!!!

  6. Fred says:

    thnx 🙂

    regarding the luggage, lesson learnt 😐

  7. Pradyut says:

    What a small world. I was in the same group of people along with Rohan, and staying at the same hotel!

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