Shanghai Lounge

The name sounds like a bar from the film noir period in the 1940s.    If Bogart were alive today, this is where he would be found.   A beautiful Malaysian waitress comes over to our table and gives my friend and me big hugs.  We met her here years ago, and have since gone out for coffee and dinner with her and shared some of the details of our families and our lives.  It is that kind of place, small intimate, subtly decorated in an Asian motif, but not kitschy, all in a very real way.  Everything about the place says blink your eyes for just a minute and you will be in Shanghai. .  For the little while that you are there, your world has been replaced with scallion pancakes and cumin lamb.   You think, this would be the perfect place to meet a spy, an actor, someone incognito… Whoever you meet here will be unique.

Unique, she is.  This is where I regularly have dinner with one of my oldest friends. How many young Pakistani women left home in the 1970’s to study abroad?  Her father was forward looking.  He sent not only his sons, but his daughter, to the U.S to get a graduate education. She went from being a young, eager to take a bite out of life, girl, to becoming a major development player in an international organization .  I am being purposely vague so as to afford her some privacy.  It has been inspiring to see her reach her personal and professional goal, and fulfill her dad’s dream.  When you know your friends’ families, it changes the depth of you rapport with them. When she first arrived, she knew nobody, except her brother, already studying here. I worked in the international student office at the university, just having returned from studying abroad myself.  Her brother wanted her to meet a trusted American in her first week here to help her adjust and make her feel at home.  It was an easy task since she and I hit it off instantly.  Sometimes you meet someone you don’t know and it seems that you have known each other forever. 

A lot of water has passed under that bridge.  We have spent time together over the years here, in Pakistan, in Albania, and travelling with our husbands through Kosovo, and Croatia.  When we laugh, it is in belly laughs, and usually precipitated by just a few words in unfinished sentences that we could easily complete for one another without hearing much beyond the first couple of words. We have celebrated the birth of each other’s children and the loss of family.  There is something very reassuring in friendships that span time and place.

I am writing about my friend and about the Shanghai lounge because we had dinner there last night, and for just a few minutes I was 25 again.  I was half ways around the world, and here, all at the same time. 

No matter how often we go to the Shanghai Lounge, its mystique will remain, as I settle into a table, look for my favorite waitress, and hope that I do better with my chopsticks than I did the time before.  Life is full of small steps.

6 thoughts on “Shanghai Lounge

  1. How lovely this all sounds–the restaurant,the food, the waitress friend, and your “old” friend too. I love the Humphrey Bogart reference! Relationships change and grow and also stay the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this comment because that is exactly how it felt to me writing. You expressed that better than I could have- the voiceover at the end plays in my head- thanks for your observation.

      Like

  2. Welcome to Tuesday slicing! Once again I am captivated by the cultural flair of your posts. They’re so educational, as well as heartwarming, So glad you could connect with your friend and feel 25 again (oh, my – that was too long ago-!)

    Liked by 1 person

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