Friday, August 12, 2005

Shanghai Baby.

Huiling et moi, à Zouk

les garçons à la plage: Samuel, Lenco, Gilson

Huiling et moi, encore, à la plage de Siloso

les filles Patricia, Huiling, Christina: celibataire, confiant et disponible

It’s been a good one week since Huiling left for Shanghai. Thanks to National University of Singapore/ NUS’ Overseas College (NOC) program, she’s spending a year attached to Hewlett Packett as a Purchasing Executive, and also spending some time on the side reading modules pertaining to technopreneurship, business and Chinese culture at the esteemed Fudan University where the crème de la crème of China participates in intellectual exchange; preparing to take on the world.

During the weeks leading up to her departure, we had a series of farewell parties held in her honour. She threw a party at her house a week before leaving, inviting forty of her closest friends for an intimate soirée, bonding over sweet and sour pork, lasagna, bruschetta with marinated and diced tomatoes, otah, macaroni salad, kebabs and the like. My pals—from LAF1201/Elementary French class, 4 semesters back—and I bought her a chic notebook from style-savvy stationary shop, Prints, so that she can put her thoughts on paper (thank you Edmund!), but it looks like she may not need it now with her new Xanga blog ;) A sizeable entourage then adjourned to Phuture/Wednesday with Huiling where we carved out our own space downing lambourghinis, sour apple shooters, e33s and other mixes; lapping up the great company and forgetting for a moment that Huiling’s leaving. Later on we moved on to Zouk to take in the cheese; and as the sound systems belted out familiar crowd-pleasing favourites to the tune of “oh plea--ase… won’t you stay a little longer…”, I felt a mild pang of grief, and it suddenly hit me that Huiling was really, really leaving. The final goodbye came that Friday when our lot went to Sentosa for a spot of tanning and a round of beach volleyball…

And sure, we would miss her for her youthful vigour and spirit, and flavourful presence when we go to parties together, tanning at NUS’ pool, lunches at Arts Canteen, French lessons with the Francophiles.

Can she take on Shanghai? Even though she expresses great ambivalence towards adapting in so chinois a city, I think frequent visits to more cosmo spots like Bund 18, Three on the Bund, or even MoGanShan (an art district like Beijing’s Dashanzi, where art galleries are housed in old factories) should sooth her senses comfortably in a city in transition like Shanghai. Thankfully, I also managed to tap on some old contacts, and soon, they’d be bringing Huiling out for coffee, and hopefully, even dinner in their homes! My friend, Bill, an ex-editor of a Chinese daily is now studying Deutsch in Berlin, but has managed to activate his friends to get them in touch with Huiling, one of them being Monica, an ex-intern at his daily. My other Singapore friend Ginny knows a Shanghainese (Vicky/Huifen) in her school, Melbourne University, and Vicky has been kind to introduce some really local Shanghainese contacts to Huiling. Finally, my Bangkok friend, Chad, has a well-heeled Thai friend, Chong, studying Chinese in Shanghai—let’s hope he shows Huiling how to have a good time in Shanghai. =)

What better way to make Huiling feel comfortable than to pay her a visit the next (school) holiday? If everything goes according to plan, I shall redeem my miles on Krisflyer and make a trip to Shanghai and ask the girl to show me the town. We’ll eat xiaolongbaos, drink tea and speak Shanghainese. What a great way to spend winter.


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