Jesse’s Blog

Monday, July 14, 2008

Exigent Shanghai Celebration

Exigent Shanghai Celebration (41 of 96)

Exigent Shanghai is officially open for business! We just threw our grand opening celebration at the new studio (don’t miss all the pics; Facebook no worky through the Great Firewall of China). People came from far and wide to celebrate with us, including Garland’s entire family.  I miss them so much and it was great to see his wife and all the kids.

Exigent Shanghai Celebration (54 of 96)We started with a studio open house with snacks and drinks, and then had a ceremonial unveiling of our brushed-steel logo in the lobby after some speeches by Garland and our primary outside investor. The mood was very excited and upbeat as we laid out our plans for global domination.

Exigent Shanghai Celebration (76 of 96) After some more mingling we moved on to dinner at a nice hotel. Paul talked a little more about the company and the people while George and Sarah continued to translate everything into Chinese (they had been doing this all day). We ate and schmoozed until about 8 PM and then called it a night!

Well, except for Paul and I. This IS Shanghai, afterall.

posted by Jesse at 8:04 pm  

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shanghai – Day Six

Shanghai-145

I’m leaving for Delhi tomorrow and realized I hadn’t taken a group shot yet, so I got the team together for a photo in the studio (above). As you can see there are a few clowns in the class! I had some nice spicy beef udon noodle for lunch and a red bean milk tea before we went to check out the hotel directly across the street from our office park. It’s literally 1/4 the price of where I am staying now and, honestly, it’s not that bad. Simple but clean. Better than anything in India aside from 5-star. I could stay there for 30 days with all amenities for the same cost as rent alone in Noida (which doesn’t even include utilities, internet, TV, etc). I’m already making friends and plans.

Shanghai-147 Speaking of which, we went to Korean dinner with some friends of our General Manager. Sam plays guitar and his girlfriend Vivian… speaks really good English. Not only does she speak well, she does so with an American accent she learned from watching Friends. Really. I was so distracted by her artificially (but excellently) tuned accent that I couldn’t focus on what she was saying. We immediately offered her a job teaching English to the Chinese and Mandarin to the Americans at our company (she has taught before – we were calling her O sensei by the end of the night). If all goes well she’ll start in mid-July.

Well, time to pack up my stuff so I can zip right out of here in the morning before my weekly meetings.

posted by Jesse at 10:10 pm  

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shanghai – Day Four

Note: If you are reading this on Facebook it seems my photos and links aren’t being displayed! You’re missing out on all the great images! Read it on my blog instead: http://jesse.rapczak.com

I’m making progress with the studio infrastructure but not as quickly as I would like. We had some incorrect hardware and were missing a few things. I have also hit a bit of a snag when it comes to training the artists, since there is no up-to-date Chinese documentation for our primary software package. We met with the company today and they are pointing us in the right direction.

Coffee ContraptionWe went for lunch today at the great cafe in the center of the software park. I swear I have not eaten food in Shanghai yet that didn’t taste great. We topped off our lunch with some of the famous coffee at this cafe which is made in some sort of weird contraption that looks like it was salvaged from the lab of a mad scientist! I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I couldn’t stop drinking this stuff.

Shanghai-111 For dinner we hopped in a cab and headed over to a Hot Pot restaurant (Huo Guo in Mandarin). I watched Sarah and Renzy play some games on the way. I hadn’t seen this before, but maybe I have just been in India too long. The games are Flash-based with a touch screen, and seem to contain a lot of advertising. Sort of like the mini games you get on the net for various product launches and what-not. Most of it was in Chinese, except a version of the robot arm game where you try to pick up prizes from the bottom. I entertained myself by taking pictures.

Shanghai-113 The first Huo Guo place we arrived at was closed so we hopped back in the cab and found another place closer to my hotel. Huo Guo is a special kind of meal where you choose a sort of “soup” that you cook other things in right at your table. The soup we had was fish and tofu… something my brain said “no” to, but I figured it was about time I tried something I didn’t like. Silly me; It was great!

Shanghai-117 The way it works is simple: you pick up some uncooked meat and hold it under the surface of the soup until it’s cooked and ready to eat. Then you dip it in some garlic/ginger sauce to cool it off slightly and add a bit of extra flavor. It’s all very fun and the result is uniquely satisfying. If you have a chance to try it don’t pass it up!

I’m increasing my Mandarin vocabulary on a daily basis. I find it’s best if I write stuff down so I can refer back to it later – sort of like flash cards minus the part about the cards and the flashing. I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done with my first trip to Shanghai! I’m going to be sad to leave and I already can’t wait to come back. We have good people here and we’re going to be very successful. This is just one of those things that feels “right”.

posted by Jesse at 10:37 pm  

Monday, June 2, 2008

Shanghai – Day Three

Exigent Shanghai Panorama

Exigent Shanghai is better than sliced bread. Walking into our office, I was in awe at how “grown up” our company suddenly feels. From humble beginnings and a few tough years living in Delhi later, to… this. I had a grin on my face for the first hour I was at work.

Shanghai-108 The office is on the 3rd floor of the “most feng shui” building in a large software park. There is a cafe right at the center. As a mid-morning snack I had a tuna sandwich and banana milk. The price was about the same as I would expect to pay in India for food of this quality, only it tasted better than anything I have had in India.

I spent the day getting set up and configuring our network. We ordered a few more servers that will arrive tomorrow so I can complete the setup, and we scheduled meetings with various vendors and industry colleagues over the next few days. So far we only have 4 official employees (the rest are interns). By the time I leave, however, the production team here will be fully equipped to handle whatever workload we can throw at them. IF I leave…. muhahahaha!

Holiday Inn Downtown Shanghai - Greatwall WingWhen I returned to my hotel I was hungry, but nothing inside fit my fancy. I decided to take a stroll around and see what I could find. I got to practice some Mandarin, mostly “I don’t want”; “I don’t like”; and “No thank you”, as I was openly approached by prostitutes saying “Massage, sucky, fucky? Very beautiful.” They were like caricatures of themselves. I settled on KFC because they had a grilled chicken sandwhich. I asked “Ji rou ma?” (Is it chicken?), to which she responded “Dui” (Yes). I could have responded with “Wo xiang mai zhe” (I want to buy this), but I wasn’t that quick. I just sort of pointed and grunted and nodded. Next time!

posted by Jesse at 10:21 pm  

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Shanghai – Day Two

Shanghai-68 My second day in Shanghai fell on Sunday – which meant more play time. After an amazing Japanese beef udon noodle lunch, we started out the afternoon shopping for some high quality imitation fashion accessories in the form of sunglasses, watches, and a few other things. I had George take me to the shop that Paul liked and the owner gave us more great deals. He even traded my broken sunglasses (which were bought from him in January by Paul) for brand new ones for free! He told me he would give me the same treatment with the watch I was purchasing. I spent less than $100 USD and came away pretty satisfied. Unfortunately my oriental fan opening skills left much to be desired.

On the way out I got some tasty coconut milk tea with red beans and jellies before we stumbled upon the Shanghai Museum of Science & Technology. We didn’t have time to stop (and George had already been there twice with Paul), but I did manage to get a nice panorama of the courtyard that is pressed up against the shopping center:

Shanghai_SM_Panorama

Next we went for a stroll down the famous Nanjing Road, which is the world’s longest shopping district (around 6 km long) and attracts over 1 million visitors daily. East Nanjing Road is pedestrianized (no cars) and seems like a super-sized version of the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica. The “people watching” there is great and on a nice day the parks and trees would serve as great hosts to a relaxing afternoon.

Shanghai_BundA_Panorama

At the end of Nanjing Road to the East is The Bund, which is an amazing collection of architecture concentrated along the Huangpu River. Shanghai has a lot of well-preserved modern culture and it was refreshing to see everything mixed together in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Being near the river had a certain liberating feeling to it, given that every body of water in and around Delhi feels downright toxic to even look at. Still, I wouldn’t risk a swim in the Huangpu, either.

Shanghai-102We wrapped up the evening with dinner in a quaint little “Canto” (Cantonese) Restaurant that George likes. I have to say that, without a doubt, the food here in China is the best I have had anywhere. I haven’t tried a single thing I don’t like. I love the main courses, the appetizers, the desserts… and it’s not just the Chinese food! The Japanese food is equally good. Maybe India is just so bad I’m not used to good, cheap food. The cost of living here seems the same or less than India, but the quality of life seems so much higher. But that’s a whole different post.

posted by Jesse at 9:26 pm  
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