You know you’ve become a Shanghai local if:
1. You schedule your entire day around your foot massage appointment and are a card-carrying VIP member with Dragonfly. 60 minutes of pure pain & pleasure. Hot Damn!
2. You don’t stare in horror at the man peeing into the shrubs on a busy street, his not-so-privates fully exposed to any and all passing by. You just think to yourself, glad he’s not taking a crap ‘cause that would be really disgusting. My standards are in the gutter and so is A LOT of urine.
3. You are touched on your body by 10+ complete strangers in the course of a subway ride and it doesn’t bother you in the least. A little hand sanitizer and off you go!
4. The baristas at the local coffee shop greet you by name and ask about your CNY, which for most expats means exploring Asia. For me, CNY was a quick trip to Vietnam.
5. Lady selling fruit out of her van on the corner near your home recognizes you and greets you enthusiastically. You feel guilty with the knowledge that you started buying organic fruit online instead of from her because you know her fruit comes from the polluted fields and has been sitting outside getting even more polluted by the minute. The organic fruit is probably just as bad but you have to try to eat healthier food to make up for all the “foggy” air you breathe in.
6. The Doorman lights up when he sees you get out of the minivan but then promptly groans as he lifts the five 75 pound suitcases filled with U.S. cheese and sausages and vitamins, oh my! Best import–Girl Scout Cookies!!!
7. You give your Ayi a key to your apartment so the plants won’t die and the dust doesn’t pile up while you travel all over the world and hope she enjoys trying on your clothes while you’re gone.
8. A scooter almost hits you and your blood pressure doesn’t even rise…you just count yourself lucky and try to be more careful cause if you do get hit, you are SOL. You know no one will help you, no ambulance will come and take you away so you better drag your ass over to the curb quickly before a bus finishes you off and pray you can hail a taxi to take you to one of the few Western-style emergency rooms, the address of which I’m considering getting tattooed on my chest just in case so it’s handy.
9. You don’t even bother wearing an air mask until the AQI (Air Quality Index for those of you inhaling clean air who don’t have to track this type of thing to save your life) hits 150 or more. Once again, our standards continue to slip—Seattle AQI is 20 or lower most days but here in Shanghai, anything less than “hazardous” is considered a beautiful day.
10. The hocking sound of phlegm getting ready to take flight sounds like home…watch your step!