Monday, February 8, 2010

The missing shop

Comfort brunch instead of a cup of (badly tasting) tea with my two favorite old Suzhou ayis...

I spent the wknd in Suzhou –first time I went back there since I moved to Shanghai about 1 month ago. Although Suzhou feels quite “sleepy” compared to Shanghai, I was still amazed by some of the changes that I noticed, which has taken place within that one month I’ve been away: huge construction projects have finished (Suzhou’s soon to have a Marriott Hotel in SIP), new restaurants and shops have opened, In City Mall (印象城) mall has actually become people-popular (it used to be so that me and my friend C were the only people browsing there –we kind of liked it. No lines anywhere), and, my favourite shop is gone?! Yes, GONE! Finito. No more.

It’s funny when shops close over here. They just disappear over night. My favourite Suzhou shop was located in a dusty corner in one of those sleepy malls that isn't really a success, but that still manages to pull a crowd every now and then. It doesn’t have any brand shops or anything fancy (I think the closest to a brand you can get it the Subway counter downstairs). Anyway, my favourite shops was simply my favourite shop because of the two old ayis that ran it. They were old, funny and 100% lovely! 

They sold all kinds of crap (stickers, candles, paper boxes, candle holders, Christmas cards, balloons, decorations –this is where I went on a spree before my boyfriend’s surprise party-, mugs, some strange toys, incense, herbs… and everything else that you can think that you might need, but never know where to find.) All in all: I loved this shop! Loved browsing it (it was completely disorganized: you would lift a box and underneath it you would find a pile of 80ies posters of River Phoenix and Johnny Depp! You would ask the ladies: “How much is this poster?” pointing at a young Depp and the ladies would say: “That one? He’s not even that handsome! Why don’t you take this one instead?!” (pointing at River posing with some car). “We’ll give you the other one for free! How’s 5 yuan?”), loved finding odd stuff from it (I have the most retro paper box in the world, I swear. OK, my friend C has the exact same one but I believe they are two rare originals), loved chatting to the honest two old ladies running it (me: “I’m going to end up buying everything in your shop!” them: “that’s why we like you so much. You should come more often! Would you like a cup of tea?”), and enjoyed just being there.

But now, it’s gone. Replaced by some stiff looking clothes shop. Ah, such a shame. And even if it simply moved I have no idea how to track it down.

My boyfriend wasn’t half as sad as I was when we discovered the “lost shop,” in fact, he seemed quite relieved (?). I was sad for a good hour or two, and used the “lost shop/missing nice ayis” as an excuse to bake scones and throw a home brunch Sunday feast (yes, I invited guests, so I wasn’t a complete pig) the next morning in order to soothe my sore soul. Got to enjoy some of the changes in China (like the Farmer’s bank -农业银行- nowadays having a numbered line system and a new, flashy counter. That happened during one summer when I was away), but sometimes things really happen to fast.


Unknown said...

Sounds like a treasure trove of a shop! I enjoy browsing this kind like the ayis'.

Anonymous said...

nice read. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did anyone know that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Melody said...

Those shops are the best! They only sell stuff you absolutely don't need, but you always end up buying something anyway :) Too bad it's gone.

Pete In Syracuse said...

Not to make you sad but you were probably the best customer they had. If you are co-dependent you can say it's all your fault but the reality is it might have closed up even if you were still there. I love those type of shops too. It's like a treasure hunt every time you shop!!!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Keats -me too. The ayis is a bonus!

Anonymous -uhhh, blogging is enough. I would never have time to update on twitter.

Melody -Yup, that's 100% true. It's probably a good thing for my wallet that it disappeared.

Pete -haha, maybe it went down when I left Suzhou? I know they liked me because I was their spender-customer... :)

Wei said...

That's my china. I have lived in Beijing for almost 10 years. Few months away, my favorite dumpling restaurant just gone.
By the way, where you bought that butter in shanghai? Is that possible buy some cheese or butter that normally sell in ICA or Coop in Shanghai?