Rong, Ronald and Noodles (Shanghai part 1)
I arrived in Shanghai at noon with a sunshine attenuated by the freezing air and overpowered by the bustling crowd of platform 11. I was carrying my 60 L backpack and my day pack, plus big boxes of Aunt Xi Ling–whom by the way, I met in the preceding 14 hour train ride. Together with Max and Lene, we dumped the duct tape cocooned packages in the trunk of the cab for our motherly train seat mate. Aunt Xi Ling gave me a hug and uttered something in mandarin before she hopped in the Jetta sedan taxi that looks like something from a germany car hire in the early 90’s. All three of us waved goodbye as Lene and Max smiled and I tried smiling too as if I understood what she just said.
“Rong, she wants you to visit her place this Sunday before you fly back to Manila… She will be preparing a feast for you”
Overwhelmed, humbled and confabulated, I bade farewell to Max too, who will be catching another train to his province. “I guess this is the last time I will be seeing you Rong, watch the 3rd season of Heroes and let’s talk about it via email” Max shook my hand, gave me a big hug and he walked off with a fixed smile heading to the ticket counter. I feel hollow inside whenever I had to say goodbye to people I meet on the road, not knowing when you will see each other again, the process felt like a funeral of recent memories and forced cementing of freshly cut wounds, bandaging it vigorously with hope and helplessness.
I arranged a date with Lene as she promised me a guided tour around the city. In the mean time i had to keep on moving as I still have three full days to explore the metro on my own. Right at that very moment, I was only wishing for a warm bed where I can just play dead in the next ten hours, so I quickly checked my notebook to find my hostel options.
I reached my Hostel in Lu Wan district with no prior reservation. Under the warm halogen lights was my temporary refuge while the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel receptionist checked the computer for an available bed space. At CNY 60 (PhP 400) She gave me the key to the last available bed and I sprinted to my dorm unit and opened the door…
Voila, five exchange students from London with ages ranging from 17 to 17-ish were sitting in a circle with all eyes on me.
“Ni hao… Ni jiao shen ma ming zi?”
“What the f*** juvie! I know how to speak english!”
Katie, Bandon, Desmond, Hugh and Laura introduced themselves and officially welcomed me to their so called “House of Master Wang.” A group of hormone driven kids with retarded developmental process were apparently there on the last few weeks of their cultural exchange program, which I reluctantly believed because of the presence of KFC boxes, McDonald’s Fries and strong british accent flying in all directions–It was more like a Gryffindor house gone wrong.
“Alright, Ronald… as part of the house tradition, we will baptize you with your underground chinese name…”
“…you will now be known by the name–NOODLES”
“Any message Noodles?”
“err… God help me?”
Hungry and tired, my consciousness shut the noise of my uber enthusiastic Hogwarts classmates. I threw my bags together with my earthly body on the bunk and drifted quickly into deep slumber!
to be continued…