Birds. Car alarms. Footsteps. The slap and drag of slippers. The humming of electric bikes. Windows opening and closing. The neighbour playing the piano. Radio ads muffled through car windows. A cough.
Doors slamming. Traffic lights. Arguments. Tree leaves in the wind. Someone chopping wood. Someone sweeping the floor. Someone hammering nails.
The lock and cock before a spit. A dog wheezing. Bike bells.
My own breathing.
These are the sounds I manage to identify as I woke up on and paced around Nelson’s home.
He woke up at 10.30 am.
I knew he was up working until at least 3 am, in front of the computer as I did a midnight bathroom run.
Our brunch was the meal I’ve been wanting to try since arrival – a dumpling shop with no name.
I think we paid $8 AUD for what felt like a meal for a family.
The menu with perfect Chinese character alignment gave me much joy and excitement.
The main purpose of the day was to visit Brownie, a photography gallery client of Nelson, which would be hosting our second launch event.
He took me to Nanjing Road to see Jing An Temple, a temple made of gold.
We also stopped by HAY – an upmarket version of IKEA as Nelson put it.
As we walked into Kerry Center, it was obvious to me, again that I was out of my depth. The gallery was situated in this billion-dollar shopping centre, and I had no idea how my little book was going to make sense within this context. “The coffee here is the best, packaging even nicer, ” said Nelson.
We said hi to the venue and discussed how we’re going to set up the space to fit thirty people.
Brownie told Nelson they would only announce our event on Thursday to not overshadow the other events happening on Friday.
Announcing a Saturday evening event on Thursday? I drank my long black, wasn’t sure if I tasted anything.
Nelson then took me to a Japanese supermarket to shop for dinner.
I wasn’t sure if he was being ironic on purpose, since I just flew in from Japan the day before.
Perhaps he just trusted the Japanese supermarket more.
I bought a pack of Yakult.
After we arrived home, we worked on our presentation for the next day.
We were distracted by different things – he took me through the publication scene in Shanghai, talked about our own businesses, shared our past lives in adland.
I was still trying to digest the fact that I published a book with someone I’ve never met in real life, in a different country.
The whole day, as we were walking, eating, chatting, Nelson never missed a beat on the phone.
He was replying messages, fulfilling orders, arranging delivery pickups, correcting typos on social media posts, coding his own website.
When Hui Chin came home from work, we barely made progress on our presentations.
Dinner was homemade and simple.
Nelson apologised without realising that’s how I like it.
My second day in Shanghai, I did not take many photos, but I witnessed first hand the life of an independent publisher in Shanghai.