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31 March

Today was another day of very interesting activities. Following typical morning preparations and completion of the necessary daily activities of life, which included writing the last of the information for my journal for yesterday and uploading it to the web site, I headed out to find the Canadian Consulate. As with many of my choices so far this one too proved to be transpiring at a very auspicious moment.

When I arrived it was the beginning of the lunch hour. I was fortunate that the Deputy Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner, Neil Clegg was just going out and joined him for the walk back out to the street. He proved to be a very pleasant fellow and conversed in a friendly manner.

I went window shopping to pass the time and during my foray into the shops in the neighbourhood, I was approached by a very attractive young woman who began to chat with me in a very friendly way. She said she was a classical musician and was just passing time with nothing to do for the moment. I agreed to talk with her over a cup of coffee. She suggested Starbucks and because I am not fond of either their coffee or their prices, I suggested KFC. She seemed a little less than delighted but consented to the choice. We went in the door to the nearest one (there are many around Shanghai) .The entry we chose had the atmosphere of a Harlem alleyway. We discovered that we had come in a back way.

She approached the counter then made way for me to occupy the place in front of the till. I took this to mean that I was expected to pay. No problem. Coffee here is only 4¥ and that is within my budget. However her order came to39¥ and that is more than twice what I would pay for a light meal. I indicated that that was unacceptable to me and she immediately cancelled the order and disappeared. I presume there was something other than coffee talk on her agenda and she had an urgent need to get back to more meaningful business. It looks like I have found some ways to deal with the sales tactics that are so subtly employed here at times, especially by the women.

When I returned to the Consulate I was once again fortunate although not without some discomfort. Communication is not easy here most of the time. I was told to wait in the waiting room and after a prolonged period of time I asked the receptionist whether I would be able to see anyone. She said I could but said the person I would see was in the building but could not be found. They were trying and expected to soon discover where she was. I said I would wait another 10 minutes; as I wanted to get back to the Shanghai International Studies University to give Andrei, the Russian university team delegate the information on Kelowna and the Okanagan that I had promised him. Within a few minutes the receptionist knocked on the glass that separates her from the waiting room (waiting rooms here are very austere places with no open contact with any internal personnel) and told me that the lady concerned would be out to see me shortly.

Before the 10 minutes was up Annouk Rouffo Leduc hurriedly came out to see me and suggested we talk quickly in the adjacent meeting room. I explained that I did not operate at Shanghai speed and perhaps it would be more desirable for her if I left or at least made an appointment at a time when she was not so busy. Her manner then appeared to be much more friendly and she agreed that meeting on Monday at 3 PM would be quite acceptable. Before I left she suggested that I may wish to attend the annual informational presentation given at the Four Seasons Hotel this evening to a group under the auspices of the Canada China Business Council (CCBC). I asked whether there was a cost and she thought it would be about 200 RMB. It turned out to be 280 RMB.

I arrived just after 6 PM. I had planned to be there before 6 but for the first time I took the wrong direction with the crowd when changing trains in the Metro. I guess I needed a little humiliation to get over the idea that I was good at getting around Shanghai on my own. To navigate the dense crowds at rush hour you need the dance skills of Fred Astair combined with the assertive competitiveness of Dale Earnhardt and when that fails the agile reactions of a Wayne Gretzke.

The evening proved to be very pleasing. I met and talked with a number of interesting characters.

The most noteworthy being the Consul General, Robert B. Mackenzie (together in picture), who offered in a very knowledgeable way advice on the problematic factors with developing Sister City relationships. His concern was very understandable but he agreed that proceeding with the plan Yao Shifeng and I have initiated would not be unwise. I also enjoyed the conversations with Michael Xu, Shanghai Chapter Manager, CCBC, and others too numerous to mention. Of memorable interest to me were the talks with Adam Neifield, Deputy Head of Admissions at Yew Chung International School regarding the possible development of systematic social conversational english training for English teachers; Neil Clegg whose sociability included an invitation to join his group for an annual golf tournament on 23 April; and the fascinating Qiqi Lee, Art Director of the E>Studio. Although I wished to, I didn't get to speak with Vincent Zheng, SMB Enterprise Group Account Manager, Microsoft.

Also of remarkable interest is the invitation extended to me by George Dai who works for the Shanghai Government as the Deputy Director, Shanghai ZhaBei Foreign Economic Relations Commission, to call him any time. He even stated that I should call his cell phone to ensure direct contact with him.

Notwithstanding all that I see and do, I know that from any distance my presence here among the millions cannot be discerned and my movement however rapid and energetic cannot be detected among the dynamic construction projects and frantic pace of life designed to advance this country into a global future. Yet I strive to play a small part in the drama and contribute my energy in some degree to enhance the character of our future world civilization. It will take well planned enterprises, sincere and trustworthy relationships, and well directed investments to be successful, but this is a challenge I joyfully accept.

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