Magazine article The Spectator

City Life

Magazine article The Spectator

City Life

Article excerpt

When Shanghainese friends meet, the traditional greeting used to be 'Have you eaten?' This was not an invitation to lunch but an enquiry into your general wellbeing. The next meal was often uncertain, and that uncertainty became reflected in everyday language. But it's all changed now. Food is still a bastion of Chinese culture but the daily rice bowl is no big deal in affluent Shanghai: you can tell by the waistlines. New greetings now address more pressing concerns like 'How are your shares doing?' - and the big favourite is 'Where have you been travelling?'

Travel is big in China, at all levels of society. Shopping is still closest to the heart of most but the 'I've-been-there' factor is rising to prominence. Hordes flock to Shanghai attractions. They love the Bund, People's Square and the leafy streets of the old French Concession - all things to be ticked off before getting back to shopping. And there's about to be a big addition to the list: Expo, next year's world fair.

Expo is everywhere in Shanghai. It's impossible to ignore the fact that we're now entering the final furlong of preparations. …

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