At Home in Shanghai

photo by Poagao

The ‘Home & Garden’ section of The New York Times is an area I rarely explore – today was different. A huge top-of-the-fold photo of a traditional row of Shanghai lane houses caught my eye, and with the subhead “At Home Abroad,” I was drawn in.

The article, written in first person by Emily Prager, narrates the author’s existence in her new home. Prager, a lifelong NYC resident with a 12 year-old adopted Chinese daughter, uprooted to Shanghai from Manhattan a year ago, exhausted by the soaring cost of living and the boutique-ification of her favorite streets. In her article, she details the way her life has changed and how she has adapted, touching on issues as deep as culture shock and as mundane as figuring out how to do her banking. Here’s an excerpt:

THE first week I lived in Shanghai, I was walking down Nanjing Street, in front of Cartier, and a man tried to sell me tiger paws. I was near one of the main high-end shopping plazas, a glittering mass of high-rise office buildings and luxury stores, when the man — rustic looking, darkly tanned and wild-eyed — approached me. Nearby, on a cardboard box, I saw his wares: the dried-out skins of indeterminate animals. He walked up to me and thrust out the two giant paws, clearly those of a long-gone big cat. He peered at me expectantly and waited for his money. I looked down at the moth-eaten paws and up at the diamonds in Cartier’s window, and I felt as one often does here, like part of a Surrealist painting. [Read Full]

It’s a really great and honest piece on expat life – If you’ve lived abroad, want to, or are still just daydreaming, I’d recommend a thorough read.

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