31 March 2007


Postscript: A slightly eyebrow-raising Ms L asked me if the next line of 落花有意 is 流水无情。 Indeed it is, but thankfully for my heart, that was not the underlying intention - it was simply a small meditation on the petals of Moganshan :) But very nice to know that I can convey such subtle nuances in the future...

29 March 2007

Considering a career change as a tour organizer

Dear Moganshan folks,

Continue to be good boys and girls by praying, but as of now, there is likely to be thunderstorms on Moganshan on Saturday PM, and the weather will turn quite cold indeed getting into Sunday.

2007年03月31日 雷阵雨 多云 24℃ /15℃

2007年04月01日 雷阵雨 阴 18℃ /7℃

(P.S. It is not just the mountain - everywhere, including Shanghai, is cold on Sunday and the cold will continue into next week.)

As such, please remember to bring an umbrella / raincoat, a warm jacket and a book. We may all be cuddling together reading over hot coffee or a glass of wine, looking over the misty mountain.... All very poetic! Card games and good story-telling skills welcome too.

To bring some good cheer to us on a rainy Saturday evening, I have taken the liberty to make a dinner reservation for us at the Moganshan Lodge. The dinner will be:

Boeuf Bourguignonne
Classic French beef stew, heavy on the red wine and garlic, and laced with thyme
Accompanied by newish potatoes, salad or greens

There is not really a choice of dishes, as the Lodge's philosophy is:

Produce is locally sourced or homemade (the bacon is cured by us from the excellent local pork), and we try to avoid waste so dinners for example are cooked to order. The idea is that you drop by during your stay, glance over the simple dinner menu and order in advance – preferably 24 hours(alternatively email “ahead” to info@moganshanlodge.com and we’ll send you the menu). We then buy in the ingredients from the local market and you all eat the same meal.

But if anyone of you does not take beef, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can inform the chef.

I would suggest that we make of the good morning weather to walk around Moganshan and then retreat back tot he Lodge when the weather threatens. Sleep in on Sunday morning, have breakfast served in bed if you wish, appreciate the smell of rain again and perhaps the weather will let up a bit for another stroll before we head back to Shanghai at around 5 pm...

Your friendly tour organizer,

This is what we call the butterfly effect

Read on my favourite Spiegel Online today:

Drop in Executions Leads to Organ Shortage

With the Olympics in Beijing just 500 days away, China has begun cleaning up organ trafficking practices. Not only have exports been banned, but with fewer prisoner executions, a major source of organs has dried up. The result has been a kidney shortage -

In South Korea.

20 March 2007

One more reason to love Glamour Bar

Glamour Bar is without a doubt my favourite bar in Shanghai - in part due to its gorgeous Bund location but mostly because of its never-dying atmosphere. (You know how some bars or clubs start going downhill after 12.30 am? At Glamour, it only keeps climbing up.) Oh, then there is that stylish M logo and irresistible postcards...

(Incidentally, I had met the designer of the M logo once through an acquaintance and we chatted over a few martinis (at Glamour of course). A young, humble and cool Chinese dude - what a great combination.)

I have now found one more reason to love Glamour - the »Shanghai Literary Festival.

Spanning two weeks and hosting three dozen authors from all over the world, the event was a welcome reprieve from the usual activities of checking out new bars / restaurants / exhibitions. Nursing a glass of wine on a Sunday afternoon, sitting back and listening to the Irish-accented readings by the authors, eyes occasionally darting to look out to the Bund, the event could not have been better done. I really liked observing how Glamour transforms from a glitzy late-night dancer into a subdued and refined lady of the afternoons / evenings...

Even better was the fact that Ms P and I got the tickets to the Amy Tan session at the last minute. She is a true storyteller - absolutely captivating and well-worth the 90-minute stand. From the moment she started her talk reading from the »CliffsNotes of Joy Luck Club ("I thought CliffsNotes were only for dead authors! So imagine my horror when I found myself appearing alongside with Shakespeare in the bookstore... I just had to buy it to see what it said about me."), all were smitten by her outstanding storytelling skills. Perhaps, it is only through weaving her signature humour with the formal (in the sense of structural) art of storytelling that she is able to publicly relate the chaotic childhood she has had.

My only lament was that I could not attend the session with Dai Sijie (author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress) - it was in French :(

Postscript: Perhaps inspired by the Literary Festival, I went into a reading frenzy the weeks after and finished 3 books in 3 weekends. Tim Winton's »Minimum of Two, Marquez's »Of Love and Other Demons and Marina Lewycka's »A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. I highly recommend the last. It is so funny (Toshiba apples!) and irreverent ("You no-tit woman! what you doing here?") at the same time as it is so observant and poignant. Comedy and tragedy are often only a fine line apart, but very few authors have the finesse to straddle it well.