In September 2009, on the invitation of the Shanghai Writers’ Association, I was able to spend two extraordinary months in Shanghai on a writer’s residency. I travelled there with Cork writer, Conal Creedon, who was also awarded the residency and who kept me entertained and laughing throughout the trip. I think we both felt that we had travelled thousands of miles away from what was familiar and everyday, not just in a literal, geographical sense but in a host of ’felt’ ways as well. Certainly we realized that this was not the so-called People’s Republic of Cork!
What then was it? Shanghai is an incredible and vibrant city, and as Conal put it, a forests of skyscrapers, taxis, and Tangle Twister roads. However, despite the impact of the unfamiliar, the remarkable friendliness and welcoming nature of the Shanghai people made us feel very at home. I remember one particular day, Conal and I wanted to buy flowers for Peihua, a wonderful woman from the SWA. We found a florist nearby, but arrived without a clue about how to place our
order. I looked around outside and approached a group of young people, telling them our problem. Thankfully, they spoke English and were more than happy to help! They spent about a half an hour
translating, correcting and helping us feel completely welcome.
Thank you, Shanghai, for such a warm and stimulating experience. I hope to come back some day!