“What is your favorite thing about Shanghai?” I didn’t have to think long to answer. “You meet interesting people from all over the world on every corner!”
A Taiwanese jewelry designer, a martial arts fighter from New York State, the sound designer for a French videogame studio, the owner of a traditional Chinese noodle restaurant.
Some of them I met in a small café in the French Concession. Many expats end up there, because their offerings range from East Asian delicacies like red bean bread to Western style baked goods like baguettes and even German Bread.
Watching the street while sipping my cappuccino offers more of the same diversity: deft motorcycle couriers speeding by, eager garbage collectors transporting masses of collected cardboard on their bicycles, sleepy security guards taking naps underneath their white helmets, Chinese women in pretty dresses walking dressed-up dogs between small produce stores. Colorful laundry hung out to dry in front of almost every house completes the picture.
Thanks to the WeChat App, which is installed on pretty much everybody’s smartphone, it’s easy to stay in touch with new acquaintances and quickly exchange tips and recommendations. One of those instant messages connects me to Laurent, who runs a gaming café on the 24th floor of a high-rise building. Chinese, Germans, Philipinos, Americans, and others come together here to play cards or board games.
Laurent – who has been living here for many years – shares a side effect of Shanghai’s diversity: “Time passes unbelievably fast. Before you know it – oops – it’s Christmas again!“