Since I will not start my new job until early September, I have the luxury of being a tourist in my new hometown while Chris is at work.
Today, I decided I would do one of the most touristy things a person could do in Shanghai. I went to the Yuyuan Garden tourist market. As I was meandering among the tea, pearl, jade, and junk vendors, my stomach started to grumble so I decided to grab a bite to eat. I passed by a cafeteria-style restaurant that had beautiful pictures of jaozi (dumplings). It is really difficult to mess up jaozi, so I ducked in to snag some lunch.
I grabbed a plate of noodles and an orange drink that was a dead wringer for the McDonald’s orange drink I drank as a kiddo, and parked myself at the only empty table in the restaurant. I was happy to finally slurp some noodles. (There is no polite way to eat noodles with chopsticks. Everyone here slurps.)
Two seconds after I sat down, an old Chinese couple sat down at the table with me. Fortunately, they did not sit directly in front of me, so I could pretty much ignore them and eat in peace.
About five minutes later, my date arrived.
|I noticed that my date also has a thing for Jaozi, coincidence?? ;)|
Yep, a random stranger took the seat directly in front of me and started eating his lunch. I really didn’t know what to do. Was I supposed to make small talk with him? Was I supposed to pretend he was not there? Was he one of those creepy people who like to scam tourists that I have read about online? This was definitely a first for me. Sharing a table with a stranger was one thing. Sitting right across from a one while eating was an entirely different ballgame. For me, sharing a meal with someone is usually a bonding experience. I normally don’t eat with strangers unless I am at a networking or social function.
I did what my city girl instincts told me to do. I looked down, finished my lunch, and at the end of the meal gave the man a “good day” nod. I cleared my tray and went about my business.
I was still intrigued by my lunch when I arrived home, so I turned to the web to seek answers about my unique dining experience. According to Wikipedia, I had dined at a yum cha restaurant. Yum cha is Chinese for drink tea. In yum cha restaurants, it is common to dine and drink tea with complete strangers. I wish I would have known that beforehand. Perhaps I could have practiced my Chinese. Or at least gotten in a good gam bei!