Saturday, July 21, 2007

Relocating From Manhattan to Shanghai

An adoptive mom settles in a new city.

Settling Down in a City in Motion
THE first week I lived in Shanghai, I was walking down Nanjing Street, in front of Cartier, and a man tried to sell me tiger paws. I was near one of the main high-end shopping plazas, a glittering mass of high-rise office buildings and luxury stores, when the man — rustic looking, darkly tanned and wild-eyed — approached me. Nearby, on a cardboard box, I saw his wares: the dried-out skins of indeterminate animals. He walked up to me and thrust out the two giant paws, clearly those of a long-gone big cat. He peered at me expectantly and waited for his money. I looked down at the moth-eaten paws and up at the diamonds in Cartier’s window, and I felt as one often does here, like part of a Surrealist painting.

I left Manhattan a year ago, after a lifetime there. I was annoyed at spending $20 for a hamburger, depressed by designer boutiques on Bleecker Street, weary of the hovering specter of Al Qaeda, and still grieving over the demise of the Thalia. I was getting old waiting for the real estate bubble to burst and the city to regain its vibrancy. I decided to move myself and my 12-year-old daughter, Lulu — whom I had adopted as a baby in China — from the old capital of the world to the new: to make a home in Shanghai, a city of the future.


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