Oregon Magazine

Shanghai Three:
Ormag Editor Experiences
Globalization First Hand

          By Fred Delkin

     As the 19th century wound down, Shanghai captured the world's attention as an open port welcoming massive investment by foreign financial interests that made the city an early definition of what we now call "globalization."  Our recent visit confirmed that this description has returned to Shanghai in spades. 

We met a number of our son and his wife's expatriate friends. One, named Tommes, is a multi-talented German who crafts the food menus for the Argentine-owned Enoteca wine bars and boasts a background as both a linebacker and scatback for the Nurenberg semi-pro American-style football club before moving to China.  He has imparted culinary skills to my son Jeff, who fashioned a wonderful home-cooked meal my last night in Wonderland (Grilled wild Russian salmon wrapped in hand-rolled Tortillas -- ingredients for this meal were purchased in a gourmet grocery adjacent to expat apartment residences, and offering an array of foods and beverages equal to the most lavish display of any western establishment.)

A Microsoft executive raised in Walnut Creek, CA and now residing in Shanghai, Mary, gave us a sidecar ride in her vintage BMW motorcycle (see pic)...a stirring jaunt slaloming around mopeds and bicycles that fill the side streets. 

While Beijing hosts the summer Olympic games this year, Shanghai is preparing a 2010 World Expo site on the banks of the Huangpu river that courses through downtown.  We viewed this project from atop the Lupu bridge and its scope is astounding.  The Expo grounds will include 200 exhibition pavilions hosting national displays from around the world.  The pageant plan is expected to host 70 million visitors and the theme is "Urban Cultural Diversity" with an emphasis on science and technology.  Clearly, China has awakened to impress our planet with its commercial achievments...and these have sprung forth with the blessing of a communist regime that clearly understands the principles of capitalism and free market trading. 

Chairman Mao is but an unpleasant memory.

Ancient traditions also flourish

While Shanghai has exploded into perhaps the world's leading example of urban modernity, we also saw that ancient traditions are maintained.  A Sunday morning stroll into Puxing Park, an oasis maintained amidst downtown skyscrapers, revealed that communal folkways are alive and
well.  Choral groups welcomed volunteer participants, storytellers gathered an audience and couples practiced their steps to ballroom music accompaniment, while elders gave their caged pet birds an airing, others practiced Tai Chi movements and dozens of pairs swung their rackets in
the Chinese native sport of badminton.

Leaving tradition in our wake, we walked through a shopping complex housing emporiums with such international designer names as Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Hermes, Rolex, Chanel and many more, and were serenaded by an orchestral group ensconced on the shopping pathway.   Again, the city's global perspective leapt forth.  This is an atmosphere that has inspired the efforts of our son and his bride to guide the growth of their bambu, inc. housewares enterprise.  Oregon Couple Goes Global With Bamboo   (Daughter-in-law Rachel earned her globalization spurs while supervising Nike's Asian factories, while son Jeff took a turn serving the Coca Cola account for the British advertising firm, David Ogilvy.) 

They hosted our Shanghai visit, which erased our doubts as to why these Oregonians have found an Asian home, and are prospering with a product that underlines commitment to environmental stability and sustainability.  During my visit, they staged a seminar for a visiting marketing class from New York University. 

We urge our readers to read Shanghai, the Rise and Fall of a Decadent City by Stella Dong, a native of Seattle who writes of the transformation of the city on the eve of the twentieth century and its morphing into "a dazzling modern-day Babylon."  Take it with you on the plane as you slog your way across the vast Pacific to arrive at a destination that demonstrates its slogan, "Better City, Better Life" as it again shines worldwide as a capitalist beacon.

© 2008 Oregon Magazine