I am not an alcoholic, I just live in Shanghai (EN new version)

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Reworked and English version this time â˜ș

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Shanghai’s nightlife

First of all, Shanghai is a city made for partying, with thousands of bars, clubs, secret bars, restaurants, partying from Sundays to Sundays ( wish I could do that anymore 😜) . On my first year in Shanghai I was not yet 18, we were going to the infamous Sky club with my friends from school, it was a time where open bar with counterfeited alcohol were the norm, followed by horrible headache unless you knew what to go for and what to avoid. Second of all, let’s say life is quite boring there, you kind of do the same things again and again, possibilities are infinite but in the end yes it’s kind of always the same stuff all around, I have never seen a Shanghai home without it’s own bar in the living room, for a last drink after work.

KTV

There are club parties and KTV parties which locals LOVE. Most of the time, Karaoke places are located in office buildings, with one dedicated floor, you get there via a dedicated elevator sometimes on a dedicated entry for the office building (so that you don’t cross the path of those who work there I guess). Once you get there, a waiter is dedicated to your group, you have to book a private room given how many people you are and how much and fancy you want the room to be, for example if you want extra light systems or a themed decoration. Then you either order from a tablet or go through the KTV alcohol and food store, your waiter will follow you with a basket and will carry all your « groceries ». Then it’s time to sit down and choose the songs you will sing for next few hours, often resulting in a lot of debates 😄. Fortunately there will always be a few U2 songs, with stolen footage from MTV, often clips you had never ever seen before with this one song but it’s China after all. From your room you can also order directly more food and drinks from a tablet, you will have mics often covered with weird looking hygienic foam, I must say I am not sure if it was us singing bad or if the sound from those sound system were always terrible. One more thing, it’s not unusual to go to KTV before going to clubbing or even after. I am pretty sure most KTV places are open 24/7.

Movies

Back in the day we would only buy illegal copies of movie in DVDs. Often the last blockbusters, in fact I never could figure out if it was actually possible to buy REAL DVDs, I know it’s not the case anymore nowadays, but at the time you would buy those DVDs in shops in the street or in little markets dedicated to counterfeit goods which were everywhere in the city. Illegal copies were often with a very bad quality, sometimes a move had not aired yet in the USA we would already have it on DVD, with the bottom or the top of the screen showing a disclaimer that this copy was eyes only for producers 😆. Sometimes it would be a movie literally filmed by someone in a cinema in the USA, with the recording device sometimes moving during the movie or heads of people in the actual cinema showing during the movie. I let you imagine the quality of sound and image given the conditions of recording with small devices in 2010
 Price of those amazing DVDs was around 10 yuans (it use to be 1€) lower in bundle and this was the price for expats 😅. I had to leave them all when I left Shanghai, to avoid big issues with customs.

Rich kids privileges

It took me a while to finish my last year of high-school there, not to say those years might have appear super duper cool from outside but inside it was quite challenging. Firstly, French schools in Asia all have a 100% score at the national baccalaureate exam and they will do all they can to keep it that way. At the time I was coming from a below average high-school in Paris and it was a huge gap in academic level. Also the bac exams is happening and corrected a lot before the one taking the exam in France, with the exams being corrected by teachers from the other French International school in Asia, since they all know each other you can imagine that they are pretty indulgent with one another, just saying. Since my grades where no satisfying enough to the director of the school at the time they made me go back a year before during my graduation year, to go through another branch in order to assure my graduation the next year. When I think about it today, it was absolutely crazy and probably illegal but once again it’s China. 

French international schools are a perfect reflection of a community without social diversity. Students all have parents from the elite, all being senior executives of big companies there, or children of the local expatriate teachers. Classes are most of the time made up of 20 people, which sounds crazy coming from Paris were classes are more like 40 students. The Shanghai French School happens to be also a German school, it allowed them to have their own soccer field and 400-meter running track, a heated swimming pool and a theatre/cinema room. The facilities are on a par with the even more expensive American school nearby.

I have to say I always felt bad in this non mixed environment, I think the lack of diversity is bad for a country, a school and also a company. With diversity comes new ideas, new way of doing things and it’s overall a more enriching environment. 

Within two years in this super elite environment I was accepted in some of the best business schools and universities, but I was also deceived by this lack of new faces, it’s why I decided to go to University instead. I was accepted in McGill, in some great HK and London universities, in Science Po Paris (note that coming from an international French School at the time you had extra advantages to be accepted to this school, in fact it was only based on your grades and an oral exam whereas in France you would first have to go through a written exam to pass the first step), I was of course accepted in France too, again from an international French school you would have some privileges, you were automatically accepted to the first one on your list. 

My own choices

University is almost free in France, it’s where students go when they are not from rich families or when they want to study fields like medicine where there is no private schools. I wanted to make sure to meet people from every background, these people became my friend today and I could not be happier. 

La Chine au coeur de l’actualitĂ© du weekend

Les vols Air France suspendus pour deux semaines

Air France se voit punir par les autoritĂ©s shanghaĂŻennes pour avoir transportĂ© des passagers positifs au coronavirus vers la Chine. La compagnie se voit interdite de vol entre Paris et Shanghai du 10 au 24 mai prochain. Ce n’est pas la premiĂšre fois que les autoritĂ©s chinoises sanctionnent la compagnie nationale, en effet, Air France a dĂ©jĂ  Ă©tĂ© interdit de vol pendant une semaine du 23 au 29 novembre dernier.
Pour rappel les autorités chinoises condamnent à ce type de peines les compagnies aériennes si plus de 5 passagers sont positifs au covid lors de leur arrivée en Chine, et cela sur la totalité de leurs vols.
C’est Ă  ma connaissance le seul pays Ă  pratiquer ce genre de mesures, un comble quand on sait que le virus est originaire de Wuhan…

Le parti communiste chinoise retire un post se moquant de la situation en Inde

Le parti communiste a finalement retirĂ© de Weibo le post qui se moquait de la situation terrible que subit l’Inde face Ă  la recrudescence des cas de coronavirus dans le pays. Le montage photo (lien bbc) montre une fusĂ©e chinoise au dĂ©collage d’un cotĂ© et les crĂ©matoires indiens de l’autre, avec comme lĂ©gende de l’image “Allumer un feu en Chine vs Allumer un feu en Inde”… Le post Ă©mane d’un compte officiel d’une agence du parti.

DĂ©monstration de force en mer de Chine du Sud

La Chine envoie un porte-avions et sa flotte dans les mers du Sud pour un exercice militaire. À ce jour l’empire du milieu dispose de deux porte-avions dont celui dĂ©ployĂ© lors de cet exercice – le Shangdong – entrĂ© en service en 2019.

Les patrouilles de la flotte amĂ©ricaine dans la zone ont augmentĂ©s de 20% depuis l’Ă©lection du nouveau prĂ©sident amĂ©ricain. D’un cĂŽtĂ© les USA veulent montrer qu’ils ne laisseront pas la Chine conquĂ©rir de nouveaux territoires en mer du Sud, de l’autre la Chine semble bien dĂ©cider Ă  tenir tĂȘte aux USA dans cette zone composĂ©e de plusieurs iles et Ăźlots disputĂ©s entre plusieurs pays, et Ă©galement de Taiwan.

Ce n’est pas sans rappeler la situation politique de Hong Kong, la Chine a su mettre Ă  profit la pandĂ©mie mondiale pour faire taire les manifestations pro-dĂ©mocratie sur l’ancien territoire anglais, ainsi que pour prendre le contrĂŽle politique et enfermer les opposants aux rĂ©gimes sous couvert de sĂ©curitĂ© nationale.
https://hongkongfp.com/2021/05/02/interview-hong-kong-is-a-city-lost-to-an-enemy-of-the-free-world-says-exiled-chinese-dissident-wuer-kaixi/

10 ans dĂ©jĂ , depuis mon retour de Chine

Incroyable mais vrai cela va faire cette annĂ©e, 10 ans, que je suis rentrĂ© vivre en Europe. Je suis toujours rĂȘveur de ces annĂ©es passĂ©es dans l’empire du Milieu, je pense que 2009-2011 Ă©tait finalement le meilleur moment pour vivre Ă  Shanghai, la Chine s’est depuis renfermĂ©e sur elle-mĂȘme.


Je me souviens arrivant lĂ -bas, Ă  Shanghai, Ă  mĂȘme pas 18 ans, en plein Ă©tĂ©, n’ayant jamais auparavant voyagĂ© en Asie ! J’avais Ă  l’Ă©poque fait le choix de suivre mon pĂšre, parti pour un nouvel emploi dans cette immense ville de 25 millions d’habitants et d’abandonner ma vie parisienne pour l’inconnu.
Avec le recul, c’Ă©tait sĂ»rement plus que ça, je devais chercher Ă  oublier quelque chose, ou chercher le bonheur ailleurs. J’avais mĂȘme abandonnĂ© ma copine de l’Ă©poque, Claire avec qui la relation Ă  distance vous vous en doutez n’a pas fonctionnĂ© trĂšs longtemps. Encore aujourd’hui elle dĂ©teste la Chine et j’en suis dĂ©solĂ©.

Le premier jour Ă  Shanghai

Je me souviens trĂšs prĂ©cisĂ©ment de mon arrivĂ©e Ă  Shanghai, aprĂšs ces 10h30 de vol Ă  bord d’un vol Air France, nous Ă©tions tous lĂ , mon pĂšre, ma belle-mĂšre et mes deux demi-frĂšres. La premiĂšre chose que l’on ressent en sortant de l’avion, c’est cette chaleur et cette moiteur ambiante, comme la plupart des passagers nous devions remplir ces petits bordereaux Ă  en-tĂȘte jaunes pĂąle pour indiquer notre jour d’entrĂ©e et numĂ©ro de passeport, pour le remettre Ă  la douane, papier qui nous servirait lors du dĂ©part Ă©galement.
L’aĂ©roport de Pudong est assez imposant, je me souviens du toit du terminal qui semble ĂȘtre percĂ©e de dizaines de grand piliers suspendu dans les airs, semblables Ă  de grandes pailles blanches. Le passage de la douane est assez impressionnant, il y a une armĂ©e de guĂ©rites avec des policiers, et des dizaines de camĂ©ras scrutant nos faits et gestes. J’ai beau ĂȘtre excitĂ© par ce premier jour en Chine, j’avoue ĂȘtre un peu impressionnĂ© par ce dĂ©ploiement de force. Au passage de la douane, on vous demande tout simplement de regarder une camĂ©ra qui vous identifie, dĂ©jĂ  Ă  l’Ă©poque, en reconnaissance faciale par rapport Ă  votre passeport. Des camĂ©ras thermiques filment tous les passagers Ă  la recherche d’un fiĂ©vreux qui pourrait reprĂ©senter un risque.
Nous rĂ©cupĂ©rons sans encombre nos bagages et sortons du terminal Ă  la recherche de deux taxis afin de rejoindre notre maison Ă  l’autre bout de la ville, proche du lycĂ©e français. La moiteur et les 38 degrĂ©s ambiant rendent tous les dĂ©placements pĂ©nibles, je me souviens Ă  ce moment lĂ  d’avoir repĂ©rĂ© que les taxis Ă©taient de vielles Santana des annĂ©es 80, et de me dire que non il n’y aurait probablement pas la climatisation dedans…
Nous trouvons un taxi, notre adresse Ă©tait prĂ©parĂ© sur un morceau de papier, nous avions rĂ©pĂ©tĂ©s Ă  l’avance la prononciation de cette adresse mais rien n’y fait, le chauffeur ne comprend pas et ne sait pas lire le chinois 😼. AprĂšs un rapide entretient avec son collĂšgue de l’autre taxi, ils finissent par comprendre l’adresse et nous prennent en charge, c’est dans ce genre de moment que l’ont prie qu’ils aient compris l’adresse correctement. Nous roulons alors Ă  tombeaux ouverts, les fenĂȘtres grandes ouverte sur l’autoroute qui mĂšne vers la ville. Je me souviens que le compteur Ă©met un son lorsque le taxi dĂ©passe une certaine vitesse, cela n’a pas l’air de l’en inquiĂ©ter, tant pis. Nous tombons rapidement dans des embouteillages monstres, quand je dis monstres, il faut imaginer une autoroute Ă  deux Ă©tages superposĂ©s, avec 6 voie de chaque cĂŽtĂ©s. Les voitures accĂ©lĂšrent comme des dingues Ă  chaque fois qu’il y a un peu d’espace, le trajet est trĂšs inconfortable. Je me vois presque mourir de chaud ou d’asphyxie au milieu de ce traffic, c’est la premiĂšre fois oĂč je me suis dit – Mais qu’est ce que je fais lĂ - 😬.
AprĂšs deux heures de traffic dense nous arrivons Ă  l’entrĂ©e du campound, il faut comprendre ici une sorte de Gated Community avec des gardiens Ă  l’entrĂ©e de cet ensemble de maisons. Les gardes ne nous connaissent pas et il faut nĂ©gocier plusieurs minutes et montrer patte blanche pour pouvoir y entrer. Nous sommes la maison 63, plusieurs minutes d’un circuit routier tortueux dans la rĂ©sidence pour enfin trouver notre maison. Nous y somme enfin aprĂšs ce long pĂ©riple.

Nous entrons dans cette belle maison, presque vide, Ă©tant donnĂ©e que nos meubles arriveront par porte-conteneur dans un mois environ. Cette maison est la plus grande dans laquelle je n’ai jamais vĂ©cu, Ă  l’amĂ©ricaine avec de la climatisation dans toutes les piĂšces. On nous prĂ©sente Ă  notre Ayi, qui est en Chine souvent une femme de mĂ©nage mais dans ce cas prĂ©cis notre bonne-Ă -tout-faire de la maison, elle dispose d’ailleurs d’une chambre prĂšs du garage. C’est Ă  ce moment lĂ  que je rĂ©alise que j’y suis et qu’il n’y a pas de retour en arriĂšre possible.

À suivre…