After Brunei I planned to visit Shanghai for one week or less to check out the operations going on down there. I had met Vincent, Alan’s partner in Shanghai, briefly during my time as an intern in the summer of 2008. I called him up ahead of departing for Hong Kong and asked if I could visit. He would arrange for me to stay at his house while I visited and I would help out in the restaurant like I did in Beijing, teach English, and identify ways in which I thought the business could be improved. Planning to go for one week at most, I ended up staying one month!
I had a wonderful time staying in Vincent’s house, getting to know his family and neighbors, and working at the three restaurants in Shanghai, getting to know the staff. I became Uncle Will to Vincent’s children, Samuel, Ethan, and Faith, and the children next door, two cute girls, whose names escape me at the moment, Rachel and Rebecca!?!? These two families of friends literally tore down the walls that divided them, and shared a basement floor that connected the two houses together. At work, I was able to help out a lot and learn a lot about running a restaurant. I also stayed long enough to help MC Haiku’s third anniversary cocktail party. We had free flowing cocktails, a band of two great musicians, a percussionist and guitarist/singer, canapés, and professional dancers. Humbly speaking, I realized this evening how great I am at entertaining a group of people. J
It is during this time that Vincent and I talked about my future work plans. I began to talk about working in China and Vincent gave me a job offer to help with the opening and operation of Haiku’s World Expo 2010 venue, located on the fair grounds. I am very excited about my time in Shanghai this coming year.
A few other things I enjoyed in Shanghai included karaoke, going to church, being offered another job from another restaurant, and celebrating Vincent’s and my own birthday, only one day apart.
I showed up to Haiku on Tai Jong Lu, having traveled across town from Sushi Inc. one evening. It was my birthday and had do not think I had told anyone but a few of the staff. To my surprise they had ordered a birthday cake and prepared a surprise birthday party for me. They then presented me with a gift I will cherish for the rest of my life, a Haiku Sushi Samurai jersey with the number one on it. I was very moved by the thoughtfulness and kindness of all the employees and the fact that they cared enough for me to put such an effort into celebrating my birthday with me. This was very special. I also spent a special dinner with Vincent and his family that night. We went to a wonderful restaurant and enjoyed great food and great company. The following night I met up with Vincent and his wife, Amanda, at a Jazz and Blues club to enjoy a Blues band and celebrate Vincent’s birthday with a nice bottle of wine.