It was as if I was plucked from familiarity and dropped in the middle of a huge city without any reference point. I mean, I seriously don't know where I am other than knowing that I'm somewhere in Puxi. It will probably take a few days to get my bearings. I now have a map of Shanghai courtesy of the numerous Expo tables around the city.
When I arrived I was picked up by the company driver in his Audi. He didn't speak any English so it was an awkward car ride. He dropped me off at the company apartment which is on HongQiao Road (near WenDing Road). I can't make much sense of the addresses here; but I'm close to a major intersection that has several shopping malls in it, such as Metro City. Miss Fei Fei was there to greet me and she showed me the apartment and then graciously accompanied me to Metro City after I asked where the nearest place to eat is. She couldn't help me with where the nearest Tesco/Auchan/Carrefour is since she's not from around here (note: I went to Tesco last night with Ahmed at Jiangsu Rd Metro station). I'm going to have to find them because eating at KFC as I did my first night at Metro City is not going to be sufficient in the long run.
The Continental flight was very good and was similar to the UAE flight to Dubai. We had a dinner menu, real cutlery, and decent food. I think UAE gave us more snacks. The seats were cloth, had cranky tilt controls, had a 110v power outlet between seats and provided just enough room to tightly cross your legs. The movie selection (via touchscreen interface) was reasonable. I watched Clash of the Titans, tried watching 14 Blades (but couldn't due to confusing cinematography), Harry Potter 6, and Iron Man 2. The flight staff seemed a bit disorganized though. One attendant completely disappeared after I wanted to get rid off the remainder of my tomato juice.
Work at EADG starts at 9am and finishes at 530pm. I have to take the 548 bus to get there which takes 15-18 minutes (not including waiting time for the bus). It's either six stops from Hong Qiao Yi Shan Rd. Walking is probably never an option with the excessive humidity and boiling temperatures (the first night was around 35 C).
Yesterday was my first day at the firm which started fairly unhurried. I got a tour by several people and met with the international staff whom I would be working with most. The firm has some 160 people at it, which is the largest branch in China. EADG started in Hong Kong and was the first and oldest to move into mainland China (yes, HK is considered as distinct as a Taiwan). It's spread on two floors, the floor below the one I am on is where most of the production happens (and where the planning team is as well). On my floor there is also the graphic team which supports each team (it seems that each team is fairly independent from each other in terms of the projects they are working on ?), project managers, managing principals, a kitchenette, and a library (books and materials).
The day was filled with mostly introductions and presentations. The office (the international team?) goes out to lunch everyday and occasionally does dinners. We went the place above for lunch and then an Indian place for dinner (to which I will comment that garlic nan is much better than 'plain' butter nan).
Ahmed is the connection to RISD and the one who oversees intern development. He's been to critiques at risd and was a critic for our Kolkata studio last spring in 2009. He's the one who I will be working with for at least the next four weeks. I've been tasked to look into government plazas and the concept of weaving for my second day.