This morning I realized I'm actually in China. I've been here for five days, but with the final preparation for our live broadcasts, I have barely left the hotel. But today, at about 7 am, I headed out with my husband and 10-month-old baby in tow and walked along the Bund. It's the riverfront area right near our hotel, which separates the older part of Shanghai, also known as Puxi, from the newer part, as in it-didn't-even-really-exist-10-years-ago-newer part, Pudong. At night, both sides of the Huangpu river are lit up with gaudy neon signs and multi-coloured skyscrapers. In the morning, the sun rises behind the oddly-shaped Oriental Pearl TV tower and sparkles across the river.
Within a quarter of a mile, we ran into groups of women doing tai chi, couples dancing ballroom style before they headed off to work, men flying kites, and ladies doing elaborate routines with fans and swords. A mix of activity and tranquility, all oddly moving. My husband said the park would forever be one of his favourite places in the world.
The six months of recent preparation for these broadcasts have been grueling, challenging, and frustrating at times. Trying to get permission from the Chinese government to even come here required a labyrinthine process that no one could ever explain to me, and all I could do was sit on my hands and hope that we would be allowed. We moved ahead – secured our locations, booked our hotels, arranged our flights, worked with our Chinese producer Luo Tong on a variety of other logistics – and finally, about ten days before I was scheduled to leave, got the official word. It was maddening and nerve-wracking, and at times, frankly, made me wish we were going somewhere else. Somewhere with a more clear rule book.
So this morning was a much-needed tonic – a reminder that we are in a pretty exciting place. A place very foreign from our daily existence back in the U.S. And that our job with these broadcasts is to bring as much of that spirit to our listeners as possible.