Shopping in Shanghai

The shipment of clothing and shoes we sent from the States has yet to arrive. It rains every day, and the one pair of tennis shoes I brought in my luggage is entirely soaked through, so I ventured out to find a pair of sturdy, rain-proof shoes.

I spent the afternoon wandering through the various market stalls on the streets and in the subway stations in search of shoes and whatever else I could find. The subway station nearest my house alone has dozens of such stalls, filled to brimming with an amazing assortment of clothing, shoes, household goods, jewelry, and electronics. It would be cynical to suggest these goods are obtained illicitly; the great majority are doubtless acquired by legitimate, if irregular, means. Nonetheless, there is usually exactly one of each garment, and that one is for someone twenty pounds lighter and four inches shorter than I. I had no more luck at the upmarket boutiques in the French Concession, where a frowning seamstress measured me, then the waistline of a gorgeous embroidered skirt, then me again, then shook her head with obvious disappointment.

For someone of my height, it was fortunate enough that I finally found a pair of shoes. A trim pair of black leisure shoes, with "PROGRESSIVE: Me suggfst the premium sporting goods sxclusively" printed neatly across both insteps in neon green.

I also dallied through a few bookstores in search of a better street map, and in the process came across one with a small and utterly random collection of English language books: the Odyssey, John Grisham and Steven King, several tour guides to China, a few Shakespeare plays, a collection of Grimm's tales, and a copy of People magazine.