My grandson is best grandson in Shanghai. Better than yours.

At school – little school, middle school, and also big school – he was best.

My grandson is the best businessman in Pudong Jinqiu. He can buy-sell, buy-sell everything, always fast, always with money for family. We made a house.

Then maybe ten years ago, the government men come and say we can have a better newer house if we will move. This is no problem, but my grandson is sure to also ask for money, and they do give us money. Our house is mark 拆, and then gone.

Our new apartment grows out of the ground very fast. The money my grandson follows with the official, and it comes.

On the place of our old house, they build more better bigger new houses. Then places for shopping and drinking coffee, and also a big school for clever students, like my grandson. This is a new university school.

We have some time to spend our money in our new house, but my grandson is always thinking, how to make a little money to very much money.

He sees the students are lazy dirty types. But most maybe they do not want to be dirty, only lazy.

So he goes away one day. He travels to a shop, and he finds a washing clothes machine. He buys it, and a three-wheel cart brings it to our new house.

In fact this is my first try with technology. At first I don’t like it – I am the one who washes clothes, this is for me to be useful. But grandson says I can enjoy trying to be more lazy too, and allow the machine to work.

He finds others have also seen the lazy dirty students and bought a washing clothes machine, to wash the clothes for money. But only my grandson really understands how lazy the students are; he is the only one to come to their rooms, take their clothes, wash them and bring them back. They like this. They are very much more lazy, very much less dirty. We have more money. I find I can like to be lazy too.

For some years, business is great success.

Then foreign students begin to come to the university. They are also lazy and dirty and will pay more, so business is great, great success.

Then a foreign student sees my grandson success. In fact at home in Meiguo he says his grandmother had business like ours. He wants to help. He helps us to work with stupid foreignors who cannot speak Putonghua and no nothing Shanghaihua. They pay more.

He is my grandson’s business partner. Excellent couple.

Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn festival, he comes with us; we are his China familiy.

At Mid-Autumn festival this year, we talk about Shanghai, the development and the technology. The foreign student – we call him MiKe – says he finds Pudong more modern than Puxi.

I tell him I have never been to Puxi.

He is shock.

I laugh. I tell him I have never been to the Lujiazui area he is talking.

He is more shock.

He says we will go.

I am shock. That was not my idea.

But he says now we must, he wants to show me.

I cannot say no, so we will go tomorrow.


We start like normal. I wash some smelly student clothes in the washing clothes machines (now we have twelve – great success). I look at the little flashy lights on the machine and I listen to the noise, and I think maybe Lujiazui will be like that but maybe more.

MiKe comes in a taxi, and he says my grandson and I will go in the back seat. Grandson, the best grandson, he holds my hand. He has been to Lujiazui many times for buying washing machines and sometimes to drink wine with MiKe. He is not afraid.

MiKe wants to know if I also have not had a ride on the underground train. Naturally I have not. When I was younger I had a Flying Pigeon. This was enough for travel. Family was close. No trains and no underground.

Then MiKe stops the taxi, and he takes me to a cave with a moving staircase which goes down into the ground, and we go down too.

A machine not so much not like our washing clothes machines eats money and spits paper tickets. You feed the paper ticket to a gate. Then the gate will let you pass.

Then you go down another moving staircase to a place where silver trains rush, whoosh. Doors open and bite shut like jaws when a train comes, but we are inside the belly of the train before they bite. MiKe tells me one time in Puxi they bit off the head of a woman. I cannot believe it is only one time.

For some minutes we ride, and it is quickly not so interesting. There are windows but only earth outside which is not outside. They have put some TV screens to make electric windows to the world, and we do not have a TV because grandson wanted to buy more washing clothes machines, so that is interesting for some minutes too. But the TV is only buy-sell messages for fangbianmian, so I prefer the window. I can see me, like a mirror. My eyes are wide, but it is all happening very fast so I do not feel so shock as I look.

At Lujiazui, we leave the belly of the train. Now we go up the moving staircase. There are people here, more than in Jinqiu, and they wear western suits. Of course we also have people who wear western suits in Jinqiu, but these are different. Here the shapes are very sharp lines, very rich material. Maybe one day we can wash rich clothes like that, I think.

Up up the moving staircase, some suits pushing past – I tell them ‘Ta ma de’. No one has time to reply.

Out of the cave, the light is bright because everywhere the buildings are giant shining blocks to multiply the light. They tell me you can go inside and up to the top. This idea makes me feel sick, and I will not allow MiKe to take me inside a shining block.

I ask them how tall the buildings are and they do not know. I ask them why they are so tall. The boys say taller is bigger is better. I am not sure.

My grandson, I think he feels he wants more face because this is shock but quite amazing and it was MiKe’s idea. So my grandson takes me to a shop with a big white apple in the roof, and he buys me a hand phone. The man in the shop makes it power for me and gives me a number with ‘8’ at the end. I hear the price. It is too, too much. We could buy more washing clothese machines. But  I want my grandson to have face, so I say nothing.

I never had a hand phone before. MiKe has one like this, grandson has a copy.

Now we go to a coffee shop, and MiKe buys a small coffee for me to try. It is bitter. I don’t like it. But I do drink. I want MiKe to have face too.

Suddenly, maybe all the shock, I must go to the toilet. MiKe points the sign, and I go.

But this is a big shopping mall. Bigger than the big shopping mall where our old house was. I come out, I look left, right, left, and I think – to look back – I do not chose the right door.

I am walking, walking.

I go up and down the moving staircases.

I find another shop with a white apple. A man shows me how to listen to music on a machine like my hand phone, and I hear some modern sounds. I like this technology, but I think it is not so useful; and I cannot buy, so I go.

I walk and I am tired, so I sit on a bed in a bed clothes shop.

I find my hand phone is shaky and flashy, a bit like our washing machines. This means people want to speak to me. But no one has told me what to do when people want to speak to me on the hand phone, so I just watch the flashy lights.

I get up and walk some more. I find a coffee shop, reallly almost the same as the first coffee shop – same colours, tables, chairs, suits – but not the first coffee shop, and MiKe and my grandson are not there. But I sit.

A waitress is cleaning tables. She comes to my table, but there is nothing to clean. She tells me I should buy something if I like to sit. I explain we did buy some bitter coffee at the same coffee shop in a different place. She understands, but says I should really stay in the other place. I tell her I lost it, and MiKe and my grandson.

She says I remind her of her grandmother, and she will take me to see some more the same coffee shops, and maybe I will know one and see MiKe and my grandson.

So we go to see maybe five almost the same coffee shops.

The very last one is by a toilet, and I know I have returned. But they are not there – there is only an almost the same waitress clearing their table and the end of my bitter coffee.

I know I have been gone maybe one hour, and for young people time is different and this is more like a half-day. I don’t think they will be worrying about me since I am older and wiser, so I will go home.

I trouble the almost the same waitress at the almost the same first coffee place to show me the underground train.  She finds the nearest cave for me, and I go down the moving staircase.

I use my small change to feed a machine to spit out a paper ticket, and then I feed the gate with the ticket and find another moving staircase down to the trains. I enter the belly of the train and the doors do not bite me, though a stupid running laowai gets a nip as she tries to jump on with big shopping bags.

I understand when I have to get out of the train at the station at the big park, and I go up to the light. I pay a man with a motorbike to take me home. This is much better than the underground train, and much faster than my Flying Pigeon.

All the time I am above the ground, my hand phone is shaky and flashy, and keeps my memory of Lujiazui very  fresh.

I come home to our new house. I go inside, and I find MiKe and my grandson also very shaky. My grandson has been crying.

“We thought you were lost,” he tells me. “Or, because you don’t use your hand phone, maybe a thief robbed you, because I bought you an expensive hand phone.”

I laugh and tell them they are both very very stupid. I have lived through many things they don’t know,  and they cannot imagine that just like before I cannot imagine Lujiazui. But then I can see Lujiazui, they will never see what I have seen.

They recover very fast to be more like men and say they are not stupid, and didn’t they show me the technology and modern Lujiazui?

Now they have already lost face, so I am honest. I tell them I like the flashy lights but really I prefer washing machines, and I think these are much more useful.