Goes on...Not too sure about withdrawal symptoms unless you consider the binging, but then I am an all-weather eater so it'd be difficult to say for sure.
I am now in Shanghai - the NYC of Asia. In Pudong Jin Qiao more precisely, where the roads are wide and clean, the buildings each taller than the other, the restaurants at European prices (with service that is worse and more insipid though) and where you see more foreigners than locals in the streets.
The road to China had nonetheless been quite long (no, I am not just stating the obvious), it was to say that we left Modena on the 7th of January and only arrived on the 21st. Passing through Munich, Stuttgart, Reutlingen and finally Paris. We were very happy to be in Shanghai at last - minus all the locks on our luggage which honestly was a mystery. Nothing in them seemed to have been stolen, but every lock had been removed. And I am now left with keys that will no longer open any lock(s), made redundant through no fault of their own...
We have a 30th floor 2-bedroom flat in a 4-star hotel for 6 weeks. With a view (when there is no fog) of buildings and more buildings, as well as the grandest (and noisiest) private fireworks display that I've ever seen on the eve of CNY. 20 million people live in Shanghai, that's nearly the whole of Malaysia in one city, only that you can probably count the trees if you put your mind to it. I am sure that whatever tree they have around will grow tall and wide one day - if they survive the pollution and the incessant honking.
I was sick for nearly 2 weeks. Probably with flu though I have no idea if it was swine or human. Mum suggested that it was because I hadn't brought along a bottle or 2 of water from my last place of residence to drink together with water in Shanghai - and that I have paid for not acclimating to the new soil. Anyway, as you can see I'm still alive and kicking, though I have kept my promise to my friends not to say anything bad about my host country on my blog - I've just whispered my opinions to my Hub's new chauffeur (who always agrees with me), thought I'd keep it very local for a start.
Being sick for so long meant I had the chance to become acquainted with Chinese TV. Every other channel shows gunfire-heavy drama with Japanese soldiers, Revolutionary Green-beret Chinese soldiers and pig-tailed damsels in them, or full-throated wailing Chinese singers singing their hearts out on stage - but I cannot tell you much about them since I usually just move on...to the Korean TV series even though I really do not like kimchi (or watching people eat kimchi).
For a Communist country Chinese TV has more commercials than any other TV I've ever watched - not that I've watched much TV in the last 15 years. Especially not in Italy where you only see half-naked young women dancing in front of 2 old men on every channel. Anyway, I've become pretty good at zapping across channels now - all 40 of them. In fact, I usually follow about 3 drama series at the same time in between commercials. They sell a lot of skin-whitening beauty products, industrially-produced drinks and cakes, computers and other products for smarter children and cold medicine of all sorts. But I wouldn't be seduced even if they speak very Pekinese Chinese - 60% of all deaf children in China became deaf after consuming some kind of antibiotics. Isn't that scary?
Though safety comes at a price. Went to a Singapore-run clinic yesterday to check out the doctor and get a new prescription for birth control pills (yes, we're still at it). Paid 200 euros for the 10-minute consultation plus 32 euros for the (imported) pills. I should have trained as a doctor after all. That was good money.
Back to TV, I am addicted. I spend my afternoons and evenings crying in front of the TV. I have forgotten how Asian drama tend to make one cry - a lot. But once the kids started school, I had to stop (the afternoon shows) as they have a lot of homework to do and years of Maths and Chinese to catch up on. We wake up at 6 in the morning now, so 10pm shows are also out - except during eve of public holidays and weekends.
I haven't started socialising much - but that will start soon I suppose. There are millions of expats in Shanghai. And everyone passes through the city at some point, we've already had lunch with an Italian ex-colleague of Hub's and he's going to dine with the CEO of some company he had dealings with in the past tomorrow evening. And I just got a call from my good Chinese friend in Paris that he's now in Shanghai - I never got to see him when I was living in Germany or Italy - but fancy catching up with him in China.
The other morning I turned up at the younger kids' school for a knitting lesson (preparing for the day I'll be knitting for my grandchildren) and caught the end of a PTA meeting. In spite of myself, got roped into helping out at both the Singaporean and French food stands (for a charity event). Interesting thing is that the French think of cooking and the Singaporeans of catering. I have almost forgotten that. Haha.
This morning I went to a fabric market to hunt for an ancient Egyptian costume for Babinette - for Egyptian Day at school. I had barely made my request when the tailor told me that I must be from one of the International Schools and promptly charged me 280 rmb for a piece of white cloth held by another piece of gold cloth that my darling will only wear once. But what choice do I have? Sewing figures not among my many talents. Why do these schools always make us spend money? And I've also got to make an ancient Egyptian dish. Since I do not have foie gras with me, I have decided to try couscous and roast chicken (well, it's fowl) - if I manage to find the ingredients and get the mini-kitchen in the flat to work. We have been eating out everyday since we were here.
Well, I'm not back for good. Just for the duration of this VPN trial that the Teenager has signed up for. We will only move into our house in mid-March. It's a big wooden house with 5 bedrooms and an open kitchen. In the meantime, I look forward to discovering more of Shanghai which probably is going to be one of the most important cities in the world - if it isn't already. See you later.