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
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.
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
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