April 15, 2016
I stretched out my hand blindly looking for my phone as I laid faced down in bed. I raised up my head looking at the time on my phone, it was 8:00AM. I was totally late for class and I had no desire to get up either. “Hopefully Laoshi doesn’t notice I’m not in“, I thought to myself. I highly doubted that considering I’m literally the only foreigner in class. “Arrrggghhh! I don’t feel like getting up right now“, I yelled. This past week had really been a stretch and I really wanted to catch up on my sleep. “Beep…beep……beep“, my phone buzzed. It was probably my eighth alarm clock. I picked up my phone to switch it off as I took a glimpse of a new message from Reza. Reza was a Fashion Design student at FIT that I met at Jiangnan University. He was doing his masters in Fashion marketing and an exchange program for six months in Shanghai. I wondered what he had to say it was too early in the morning for text messages. “Are you free today!?! I have extra tickets for Shanghai Fashion week. Wanna come?“, Reza texted. “WHAAAT!!!!! Are you serious!?! OMG!!!! Of course!!!“, I rapidly texted back almost breaking my thumb nail. I couldn’t believe this. I remember trying to contact Shanghai Fashion week, asking for a pass to attend the show but didn’t receive any reply from them. It was very hard to even contact them. I later found out from Le Xing (one of my Chinese colleagues) telling me you cannot attend any of the shows unless you were specifically invited. It was very different from some of the American fashion shows I had attended. At least you can buy a ticket to attend the shows. Shanghai Fashion week was very exclusive (it’s similar to Dubai fashion week). I already lost hope in ever attending the show until this happened. I looked up at the clock on the wall of my room. I literally had 6hours to get myself together, eat, take a shower, run to my studio to pick up an outfit to wear from one of my collection, get ready, and then head out.
Four Hours Later………….
“I’m sorry Jessica I can’t go to lunch today“, I said to my friend over the phone. “I have an event I really have to attend “, I explained to her. I placed my outfit on my bed. I just came back from my studio and I really needed to start heading out to go buy my train ticket. I was probably going to grab something to eat on my way out too (nothing to heavy). “ok, maybe tomorrow“, Jessica said. “Definitely!“, I replied as I hung up and tucked my phone in the pocket of my clutch.
A Few Minutes Later………….
I couldn’t believe I was actually on my way to Shanghai. I quickly walked over to where the taxis were lined up. “你好，你能带我去市区火车站？:Hello, can you take me to the downtown train station?”, I asked. “是的，没错进来: Yes, yes come in“, the taxi driver replied. “多少?: How much? “, I asked trying to bargain with him. “四十五: forty-five“, he replied. “不，不，我想我会去找到另一个驱动器: No no, I guess I’ll go find another driver“, I said as I slowly backed away. “好了再来: Ok ok come back“, the driver yelled. “三十五: thirty-five“, he said. “不: Nope“, I said shaking my head. “好, 三十最后一个: Ok, thirty last one“, the driver said looking away from me and staring straight ahead. He was obviously frustrated with my bargaining skills. “好！: Ok！”，I said eagerly as I hoped into the car. I totally won that bargain (I thought to myself). You wouldn’t believe that I had no idea how to bargain before I came to China. Until one of my really good pals Jasper taught me the basics on how to really bargain because he was such a pro at it. I remember walking through the night market and spotting a piece of art that I so desperately wanted. I tried purchasing it and trying to bargain for it but struggled and failed miserably. Jasper dragged me to the corner as he lectured me in basic French. He didn’t want the shopkeepers to know that he was teaching me how to bargain because they might understand a little bit of English. That was how I mastered the skill of bargaining. I buckled my seat belt as we headed off to the train station.
Few Minutes Later………….
“Here is your ticket to Shanghai“, the lady at the counter said. “Thank you“, I replied as I collected my ticket and my passport. I glimpsed at my ticket realizing I had forty-five minute till my train arrive. I really didn’t feel like sitting down to wait till the arrival time. So, I walked over to my designated gate and stood next to some of the other people waiting for their train. “我想坐上下一班火车，我是火车在一小时到来。我能做到这一点？: I want to get on the next train, my train is coming in an hour. Can I do that? “, a young Chinese lady asked the security guard standing in front of the gate. “是的你可以。让我看看你的票: Yes you can. Let me see your ticket“, the security guard replied looking at the lady’s ticket. After she was done talking to the guard, I walked over to the lady. “Hello“, I said tapping the young lady’s shoulder. “Can you speak a little bit of English“, I asked her. “Yes“, she said nodding her head. “Is it possible to get into the next train even if mine comes later?“, I asked her. “Yes yes I just asked the security guard and she said it’s ok. People do it all the time, mine is an hour before it arrives and I cannot wait for it so I’m taking the next one. You can come with me“, she replied. “Ok, thank you so much!“, I said. She was so nice and helpful. We had just a few minutes before our early train would arrive. I was so engaged with our conversation that I didn’t even realize that it was time to go until the security guard called us out. “好的: Okay“, the lady called back. “Let’s go, the train is here“, the lady said laughing as we walked out together. It was time for the adventure to begin……..
I said my farewell to the nice young lady as I walked out of the train. I was supposed to meet up with Reza at Donghua university. I was an hour early so I went to hang-out at a coffee shop closest to the exit as I did a quick Skype call with my sister. It was a twelve hour difference in time so it was the perfect time to call her.
On my way to Donghua………….
It wasn’t that hard to direct the taxi driver to the location of Donghua University. I just showed him the Chinese address of the University and the name. He was very familiar with it and knew exactly where to go. I spotted Reza from the distance as the taxi drew closer to the gate of the campus. “谢谢！: Thank you！“, I said to my driver waving as I paid him off. “Hey Reza! How’re you doing!“, I said as I rushed over. “I’m so glad you’re here! here are the tickets! you have to meet the others“, Reza gushed. I was grinning from teeth to teeth, this was really exciting.
We spent a few hours touring the campus before we met up with the rest of the FIT students. The girls were very nice and they all had very entertaining stories to tell. Mira, Reza, and I were going to go ahead to the event and meet the other girls there. Mira was one of Reza’s really close friends. She was also doing her masters on fashion marketing at FIT. We all decided to head out because the show was in two hours and we had no idea how traffic was going to be.
On my way to Shanghai Fashion Week ………….
Traffic was horrible. It took us a good forty minutes to get a taxi. Reza said it was this bad in New York too. I stretched my hand to show the driver the location of the venue. He nodded his head as he drove alongside the excruciatingly painfully slow traffic. I had no doubt that all the good seats in the show would already be taken. I bit my fingers as I stared out the window desperately wishing I could fly.
After being in the car for what felt like hours, the driver finally dropped us off in our supposed location (which was not even the location). After standing there for a good five minutes, we realized the event was nowhere to be found. We were in the middle of the city, furiously turning our heads around looking like confused mammals. Time was ticking……
After trying to use my phone to guide me and realizing I didn’t have time for my pathetic phone. I tossed it my clutch as I rushed over to the first stranger I saw passing by. “Hello! do you happen to know where Hongqiao street is?“, I asked. “Yes, it’s that way if you keep walking straight, it’s right at the corner“, the stranger replied. “Thank you so much!“, I said to her. It wasn’t too far from where we were. I ran back to Reza and Mira as I informed them the good news. We literally had twenty minutes left. It wasn’t fun power walking to the location knowing how super strict the security was about shutting the doors at the exact time the event was scheduled to start. “Why couldn’t the annoying driver drop us at the exact location!“, Reza complained. Mira unfortunately sprained her ankle from a hiking trip a few days ago and couldn’t walk very fast. “Sakeenah could you please go ahead of us and make sure to reserve some sits for us because they would shut the doors and we might not be able to make it“, Reza said. “Are you sure?“, I asked worriedly. “You have to go inform them that we’re right behind you“, Reza said. “Ok“, I said as I increased my speed and tried to walk as fast as my poor legs would take me. My thighs were burning (this felt worst than being in a marathon). After that agonizing walk I was finally in front of the building. I could barely see where Mira and Reza were as I stared back squinting my eyes.
“Madam please head this way the show is about to start“, the security guard with the black suit said to me as he tried to direct me to the building. “I’m waiting for my friends. They are coming very soon“, I tried to explain to the guard. I was obviously struggling to explain myself because one of the lady’s collecting tickets had to come up to us to ask what the problem was. “My friends are running behind because one of them has a sprained ankle and I’m waiting for them“, I said to the lady. “They have to be here in 5 minutes because we can’t let anyone in once the show starts and the cameras start rolling“, the lady said to me. “Please come this way, you have to take your seat the show is about to start“, she said to me as she took my ticket. I silently prayed that Reza and Mira would get to the doors on time as I followed the lady inside. I couldn’t believe such a huge venue could be hidden behind the very deceiving curtain I just walked through. There was a long catwalk in the middle of the room. It was a ground floor catwalk (my favorite kind of runway). There were high-rising benches on both sides of the runway and they were all filled up to the brim.
There was no way I was going to get anywhere sensible to sit over there. There was still a lot of people crowded around the show because they all came miserably late like me.
I had no choice but to think really fast………there was no way I was going to stand in the middle of the chaos in the crowd and watch the show………and the show was about to start.
Move your body, bring it here
let me hear you say it’s here…………
The music blasted loudly from the speakers as the lights slowly went dim. I quickly rushed over to where the press and media were all situated. They were the closest area to where I was currently standing and there was a very attractive open spot in between the cameraman with the maroon shirt and the dark blue jeans.
I spotted Mira and Reza as I made my way to my seat. I was so glad they made it in on time. After putting my clutch and camera bag down, I made myself very comfortable in my seat. I couldn’t have asked for a better area to sit and watch the show. The view was ahh-ma-zzing!
The show went by really fast………. It was such a pleasure attending Shanghai fashion week for the first time. It was an interesting and different experience from the other fashion shows I’ve been to but nevertheless it was quite enjoyable. The young designers I got to watch were remarkable. After the show everyone was getting up to head to another show or go home. I needed to find Reza, Mira, and the other girls………..
I was on a very tight schedule at the moment. I couldn’t even have dinner with Reza and the girls because I had to rush to the train station to catch the last train back to Wuxi. “I have to come visit you in Wuxi before you leave“, Mira said.
“Let me help you take a picture in-front of the venue before you leave“, Mira said to me as she took my camera from my hands. I walked over to the huge structure that had “Shanghai Fashion Week” written on it. I tried to pose in the best of my abilities as Mira struggled to take a picture of me with other numerous photographers trying to capture the moment.
“Here…..I hope you like the pictures“, Mira said handing me back the camera. I took a quick glance through all the pictures as we walked away from the main building.
I was very tempted to walk into one of the restaurants as me, Reza, and Mira headed towards the main road. “Thank you so much Reza for inviting, it was so much fun“, I said. “It’s my pleasure“, Reza replied. A taxi pulled up in-front of us. I was so glad I didn’t have to stand there for too long. I got into the taxi closing the door. “Bye Reza! Bye Mira! I’ll see you guys soon in Wuxi!“, I said waving as the taxi drove off.
to be continued…………