Here we are in Shanghai, once again perched above the old and the new. From our view in the 17th floor lounge of the Renaissance Yu Garden Hotel, we see the Yu Garden. Go back 500 years to the Ming Dynasty, to traditional neighborhoods, ancient gardens, rocks and koi ponds, sweeping wooden curls on the edges of rooftops. Just north of us on this side of the Huangpu River, we see the Bund. Go back a hundred years to bustling colonialism, graceful art decco buildings and silk-clad ladies in rickshaws. Further north and across the river we see Pudong. Go back just a flash to its dramatic rise into the sky. The glittering financial and business center of today is so new that the construction dust is in the air. Three Chinas at once.
Wednesday April 30, 2013
Ten pounds of pearls.
Went shopping on Wednesday and Saturday with John and bought ten pounds of pearls. Well, they actually weighed in at 4.4 Kilograms or 9.6 pounds on the hotel scale. This may seem a bit extreme, but let me explain. We decided at a recent gathering of the Schott family siblings that, in honor of this being my last official trip to Shanghai, my last visit to Jenny Tong at Pearl City in Yu Garden, we would take pearl orders from the four Schott sisters – and supply Christmas gifts for the nieces and daughters-in-law. I’m a pearl runner, supplying the pearls to my eager family customers at cost. Of course our daughters got their orders in too.
We now know that Jenny, our pearl friend over the years of our Shanghai trips, has a husband, a five-year-old son, and a life. She closes the shop at 6 p.m. every night and goes home. Here she is with her son and husband, just before closing time. Jenny owns her own business; she strings every strand herself. She was sorry to hear of John’s retirement (BUT she does take orders via email, and she says the cost of postage is only about 400-500 RMB ($70) per KG of pearls. (But who in her right mind would buy pearls by the Kilogram?)