Dragging a Whiny Four Year Old Through the Old French Concession on Friday the 13th

Since the auto-focus lens on our camera had stopped working, the first priority of the day was getting a new lens. I had read about Xing Guang Photography Equipment Center on several web sites, including SmartShanghai. It’s called THE place to buy new and used camera equipment.

We walked in and out within a few minutes and had a new lens for our camera. In the first store we ventured into we handed a sales clerk the slip of paper on which I had written the name of the lens we were looking for. He took the paper, looked at it, turned, and pulled out the lens from the glass cabinet behind the counter. Pirce: 700 Yuan, approx. $114. This was less than what I had found on Amazon’s US site.

We would have liked to explore this camera emporium filling six levels, but with the kids that wasn’t realistic. I know Henry would have found some of it interesting. Meredith, though she had recovered from her cold, was in full-blown whiny form. She did not want to walk anywhere.

Meredith had whined and cried that she wanted to be carried during the walk to Hongkou station from the hotel. Then she whined and cried while walking in the station, down the stairs, and to the subway platform. Then she whined and cried from the Luban Road metro stop as we walked up the street toward Xing Guang, pausing her pleas only while she and Henry shared a bag of potato chips bought at a convenience store just outside the subway station.

New camera lens attached to the camera and working better than the old one ever did, we continued north into the French Concession where we entered Fuxing Park. (I carried Meredith most of the way.) This gorgeous, well-manicured, well-ordered park was built by the French and was called “French Park” for some time. But like most things, its colonial legacy was reclaimed by the Chinese. Hence the Chinese park name to go along with the Chinese street names that used to bear names  in the neighborhood like Lafayette.

This is a park for a stroll, a conversation, a game of mah-jong, some quiet, and even a nap.

Though “lying about” is against the park rules. Several other things are also “unallowable,” like urinating or defecating, and “activities of a feudalistic or superstitious nature.” Though ball games and kite-flying are allowed in a “designated banned area.”

Here’s the statue of Marx and Engels, located at the north end of the park, two men whose economic theories have been thoroughly abandoned by modern China.

I wonder if Communist-Capitalist China will reclaim that legacy by pulling down the statue and replacing it with one of someone like Adam Smith or Milton Friedman?

The kids were interested in the ponds, the small amusement park rides (which my wife and I managed to them from because our stomachs were beginning to grumble), and the snail they spotted on the border of a flower bed.

We ate lunch at Art Salon and it was excellent. I thank the Frommer’s Guide to Shanghai for that recommendation. The restaurant is fairly close to the park, down a narrow tree-lined street.

The proprietors speak very good English, which made ordering easy. One of the owners is an artist, and the walls are covered with art, which you can purchase. (One painting was of the iconic image of Mao splattered Pollock-style with a variety of colors.) The food was sumptuous. There was their version of sweet and sour chicken, the best I’ve ever had. The slow-cooked pork was cubed into both meat and fat chunks. Yummy. We were the only ones eating a late lunch inside the quiet restaurant, which made Stephanie and I more concerned about every noise our kids made.

Whenever our kids have chopsticks, which is every single time we are in a restaurant in Shanghai, they like to sword fight with them. This forces my wife and I to shush them so that they’re not so loud, and to move breakable objects on the table away from them. In Art Salon there were several breakable objects like tea cups, soup bowls and soup spoons.

After that delicious meal, Meredith whined and cried that she wanted to be carried from the restaurant back to the metro. We walked along Huaihai Road, which was full of trendy shops, eyeing the windows and the people. My wife saw a few things that piqued her interest. I told her that for all the work she’s putting into the two classes she’s teaching, she deserves to indulge herself, take a big shopping trip alone. She, of course, agreed.

When we finished our return trip on the subway, as I carried her to the hotel, Meredith fell asleep, sweaty head resting on my shoulder, her limp legs gently banging against me.

Chinese Paparazzi Count for the day: 0

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2 thoughts on “Dragging a Whiny Four Year Old Through the Old French Concession on Friday the 13th

  1. Every day is a new adventure! So glad you’re able to share it with all of us in almost real time. Hope Meredith gets her walking legs soon.

    • Yes! Every day is a new adventure. I’m trying to keep up with all that we’re doing. I’m a few days behind….Half the reason I’m doing this is so I can remember it all later on.

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