A conversation with Iris, employee of the Phoenix Hostel (our current home):
Iris: So… Have you found them yet?
Us: Found what?
Iris: The dead people!
Iris: You know… The dead bodies… The ones you come to Shanghai to find….
…apparently it’s the common conception of those employed by the Phoenix that our lengthy trip to Shanghai is part of a pilgrimage to recover DEAD BODIES. As to how the Chinese rumor-weed produced and disseminated such a tall-tale, we can only speculate. Perhaps the cleaning staff mistook the aroma of decomposing lichen currently permeating our room (laboratory) for the stench of rotting corpses?? Maybe our initial attempt to explain that we’re here for “research” inadvertently got us pegged as the crime-scene-investigative types, next generation Horatio Caines?? Ni hao, CSI Shanghai.
On the contrary, on account of our culinary creativity of late, a series on the Food Network may be a more appropriate fit for us. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, we’ve proudly explored/perfected all possible permutations (yes, order of consumption matters) and combinations of oatmeal, instant ramen, peanut butter, and cucumbers. Limiting our diets to these four food products was primarily a result of evaluating our expenses and remaining balances post traversing-half-of-Italy-and-eating-our-collective body-weight-in-gourmet-pizza-every-night. But some unexpected positive side effects have been that it helps us feel like we’re embracing our inner Buddhist monks through our minimalist dietary approach (gaining a better understanding of Buddhism was one of my goals for China), and that it’s instigated an obsessive new relationship between me and instant oatmeal. (Susan would disagree about the latter being labeled as “positive”; she thinks I talk about oatmeal too much. I just have a lot of feelings.)
But okay, I’m providing a really inaccurate portrayal of our lives here. When we’re with the lab, we live like teen royalty (I have a dwindling number of days to use the adjective “teen” as a personal descriptor… just trying to get my money’s worth). On our adventures with Markus and Selene, we’ve sampled top-notch Shanghainese, Sichuan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Japanese cuisine in their attempts to show us the best this city has to offer. Their hospitality has been pretty unbelievable and makes me want to eat a slice of humble pie (a la JSF) every time I’m with them. It also makes me look forward to the days in the far, far distant future when I’ll hopefully have the means and resources to host curious nerds (like Suz & I) traipsing the globe in the name of scientific exploration.