Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Way before the world was transformed and shaken by the virus.
I was excited to be back in China to teach yoga at a prestigious winter camp and I arrived early to challenge myself if I can travel in China without knowing the language and get from Shanghai down south to the ice and snow capital of China - Harbin where I had to do the teaching. Also, I intended to celebrate the Western New Year and also the Chinese New Year, the latter one is usually at the end of January or early February. I had imagined getting two new starts for 2020 in the world's largest city. I was also there to check out if I could move to Shanghai. I was looking for that juicy challenge that I could give to myself to feel alive again. I could feel it, this place wants me and even though I didn't believe that I could really, really like living in the big city - all doors were opening up for me here. The first evening, fresh out of the airport, long flight from Canada, bullet train from the airport into the city I easily found the hotel and went out for the vegan food hunt. I checked Happy Cow and there was a place nearby, so I grabbed my jacket and went for my first exploration of the city. The air was crisp and it was foggy or maybe smoggy, who knows, wintertime might be tricky. Streets were full of electric bikes and you could hardly hear anything as they were just zooming to the next traffic light, which surprisingly they stopped at. I had lived in Vietnam before and they'd never do that. I found the building and to my surprise, it had a red carpet outside, things can get pretty fancy in China at times. I walked in, a beautiful decor, dimmed lights and western interior with table cloths, wine glasses, and candles, as far as I could tell, this is fancy and yes, there I saw it - a Michelin star restaurant. Oh, goodness gracious. And I was so hungry. When my inner voice screamed - expensive, leave now, run before you are ashamed that you can't afford it, I kindly asked for the menu to see if I like anything and to check the actual price. And I loved the menu and the price was just fine, remember I had just spent a month in Canada and a quick grab from Whole Foods Market was way over $10 and if you added a cookie and tea, $20 so a vegan dinner in this place for $25 was a jackpot. Oh, but I was wearing sweatpants, remember I had just landed. But who cares, they're under the table anyway. Leave that shame, girl I told myself.
I still couldn't believe it's a vegan place, would they really make a restaurant this good just for vegans in China?
I checked online if restaurant WUJIE was a vegan place. And it was.
So I sat down alone at my table put down the phone, looked around it was very zen a mix of all restaurant accessories like in the fancy places in Western countries but also a touch of Zen which for me means serenity, calmness a bit of a feel l can eat and next door should be a massage place and I'll be pampered all evening. I got into people watching but soon got bored as they all were on their phones, then I came back to check out the place: they had little boxes next to the chairs where you could put your winter clothes. I thought it's nice, otherwise, you are just either afraid to put your jacket somewhere just hanging since someone could ''accidentally'' take it or you just put it on another chair but here it was a little Chinese invention - a box for your winter jacket. I ordered a lion's mane mushroom steak it looked like steak, it tasted like steak. Okay, I haven't eaten meat for the past four years but it was so meaty that again I was checking for the 4th time if I'm really at a vegan place. You're thinking I have trust issues. Well, I do. That's more of a precautionary issue in certain countries in the world. What they say it's not what it is, especially when you are in Asia. I remember once a friend of mine was traveling in Cambodia and they ordered a vegan meal - they brought something that didn't look like vegetables, they asked what it was - the answer was - that's liver. That's not meat. The perception I suppose.
I finished my meal in hope and prayer that I'm still a vegan or at least vegetarian and I walked out to the Bund. The Bund is an area in Shanghai that looked like Europe for me - a mixture of art deco, neoclassical and eclectic buildings, impressive, massive, and well lit up. One looked just like a version of Big Ben, another similar to what I had seen in Berlin, and somewhere along the way it all reminded me of Budapest as it all stretched on the bank of a river.
I hadn't been in Europe for almost 2 years and I wanted to hug every one of these buildings for reminding me of where I was born. I hope you pictured it and like I mentioned before, it was rather silent, a little bit chilly, not in a puffy jacket, and some hundreds of people taking pictures on this walkway. And then imagine this, you are on that side of the old, massive European buildings and you look across the river -
Tall skyscrapers lit up in neon lights ads, cartoon characters jumping from one building to another with lasers. The TV tower like a rocket ship with a huge ball on top of it sparkling in the lights. I had never expected such a grand parade of EVERYTHING - I had seen it in the pictures but when you're in China things are way bigger. I was excited, I kept walking and I saw a building that had something similar to sort of a co-working space Art Gallery / Design shop a Concept store something along those lines. I walked in and there was a little gate so you couldn't just walk in so I thought maybe that's a co-working space. I waited around a little bit there was a guard but nobody speaks English there so I didn't say anything just looked around. I looked like during the day there's a little coffee place, so I thought maybe I'll just come back but something in me had that feeling of just stay still. For another minute or two, I did. A man showed up, and I asked: ''Where am I? What is this place?
I was walking by and it looks beautiful so I decided to come in and I'm just curious.'' He welcomed me in and this was a co-creating co-working place as it turned out it was designed by one of the successful designers from Shanghai if you're successful in Shanghai you pretty much have made it in the world and this space holds events, there were artist rooms where they were working every day. But it wasn't like you just come in and work wherever - they each had a designated space, a studio to do their projects.
It was like a club you had to belong to, of course, it was on the top Street of Shanghai and you co-create right together. For me, it was like those enlightenment salons in France. Where I imagine the great minds all came together to create something miraculous. He showed me around. And not to mention all the designer furniture, walls covered with live plants. Some meeting rooms looked like LSD living rooms - colorful, fluffy, and I could see how creativity could just spark there. I was excited to see all this and he was excited to show me all this. Then he said, come I'll show you the best:
And there it was - a tiny dark space for meditation like a meditation capsule. It was like going inside of a cone, a pine cone it was dark with little tiny lights that looked like stars and you could just sit there and meditate. Divine. And as it later turned out he was the co-creator and co-owner of this place and he connected me to many other people in Shanghai. Let me remind you I had just landed. It wasn't even four hours in this city and it had welcomed me with the best vegan steak and with the most beautiful co-creating space. I could imagine myself living here getting to know more of it and calling it my home and this would be the place where I made it. I imagined myself walking these streets in Shanghai full of energy, red lips going from one meeting to another. Hustling and giving my all to see if what I have in me is valid, if I can share my insights and make an impact, inspire people. I saw myself having an assistant and getting Tik Tok famous. Just sharing whatever is deep down inside of me, whatever I know has healed me and that can heal others.
If I can make it here I can make it anywhere. It's so much easier. Millions of people could like me and that could just give me a pass. There are so many opportunities I could smell it in the air. I ended up staying in Shanghai for way more than I had planned and everything was just flowing I did my early morning runs even though the air was I guess dirty, yes, it was stuffy but I knew - if this is my choice to move here, I am moving here with all of me and that includes my morning routine.
I had that feeling inside of me I want to do it and I did. One morning again on the Bund I saw a man practicing, I guess it was Tai Chi or some sort of martial art.
I stopped, sat down in a squat, and watched him. The nice thing about Asia is they all love sitting down in squats and knowing how healthy it is I do too.
The sun was just rising from behind those humongous buildings that were lit up the night before. I could see it struggling to reach this older part of the city, to get through the dusty dirty air. The man was moving his body with his eyes closed, with such grace and ease. That tiny human body that had also imagined to build these old and those humongous buildings and the sun, a mixture of all rising and me, in no time and space just watching it all happening.
Moments like that are worth living because it's not only what I saw it's what I felt inside of me. I noticed how before I would have thought how dirty horrible and ugly a city like this is and how on Earth human beings like us build these places but when you sit there you see how perfect it is everything is in harmony because I was in harmony. It got cold. Well, it was January in Shanghai. It can get cold in January as well. So I went back to my hotel room, Had some breakfast, and sat down with my journal. I started with gratitude and appreciation for the morning run and the power this city has. Then I switched to another topic:
I have a powerful message.
I have an inspiring message.
I have a life-changing speech.
I have a unique insight to share.
She has this tone of voice that brings you instantly home into a place of Love Like a Love cloud and you fully immerse into the message and every time she speaks it's a powerful and life-changing message that is unique. She's got an angle and a bigger picture that she sees this existence from.
I continued for a couple of pages. It's what I call Best Case Scenario - you write about your future in the present form all that you want, all that you wish for, and get into that feeling.
I truly believed that Shanghai is the city where I could do it all, where I could feel it all. I still had to move to Shanghai and start doing it. Remember it was January 2020 right before the world changed. I moved, but not to Shanghai.