Tibetan water and pizza from Brooklyn.
Having friends from different countries is a gift one can only understand when one travels to the other side of the world to be welcomed and treated by a friend who has been met on the other side of the world. The world is shrinking and a multicultural friendsphere is more than common. One of my main aims from these travels is to get as many friends from different countries as possible. So far I have made friends with a Taiwanese chemical engineer and a Chinese student. Out of the 19 million people residing in Shanghai, I now know two. I guess that's a start.
Maria's friend in Shanghai was the loveliest Chinese girl you'll ever meet in your life. The simple joy in her ever-lasting smile and her constant laughter made her much like Maria, and it was a whole load of fun following the two around for a day – I probably couldn't have lasted for a two, though. We spent the whole day in Dapuqiao, a district of Shanghai, which has been a commercial district for ages. Starting out as a community where people traded with each other to get their everyday needs into a maze of boulevards filled with customized designer boutiques and gourmet restaurants.
We were taken into a little shop with small pottery art and jewellery made out of various things, such as beads, seeds and wood. Upstairs was an authentic tea room with a table that barely reached your ankles and cushions around it that had been brought from the Tibet. I felt casually underdressed – the occasion felt like it was in a dire need a better outlook than your basic tee and shorts.
We were offered tea made in a traditional Chinese method, and the procedure was long and required a lot of effort from our personal tea maker. The feeling was undescribable when I was given a small cup of black tea, 10 years worth of preservation, made into pure Tibetan water. Two other cups were served, traditional 5-year-old white tea and a tea made by blooming a flower inside a cup. I tried describing my gratitute to Maria's friend with words such as 'fascinated', 'amazed', 'so grateful' but they really didn't even come close to doing justice to the event. Though, we promised to return the favor when she comes to Finland the next time around.
I have noticed that things have a strange way of organizing themselves and helping others makes others help you later on during your journey. Religion has tried to explain this phenomenon but I don't think karma is here to blaim, or Christian way of loving, or pure coincidence. This is some greater form of energy that I want to experiment with during my travels. Help and get help.