Transitioning from culture to culture always leaves room to learn something. This time I think I learned, or reinforced, a thought I have had that it is really easier to travel with a companion. This time, on my way back into the US from China, my companion was my violin. I flew on a newly refurbished 767-300 plane on Air Canada. Although the flight appeared full, the service was fine and it was about the neatest and cleanest flight I have had in ages. I’m also really impressed that they continue to allow two 50 pound checked bags and have never hassled me about the violin going as carry-on. This is really good news for people moving internationally.
It was also convenient to pass through US immigration in Vancouver before my connecting flight to Seattle. There was only one border agent and a growing line of people. Luckily I was toward the front. When it was my turn, I was a little nervous, as I have had the not so fun experience of being searched in the past. With a totally straight face, the agent sternly remarked, “What is that” while looking at the violin. “A violin” I stammered. And then he melted, like a kitten, smiling and saying how much he loves violin music! It was a really good moment of my latest travel experience!
In Shanghai I have recently moved to a beautiful new 2 bedroom penthouse apartment in Changning district, close to where I work and not far from Hongqiao airport. I’m really excited that I can park my bike inside, in the hallway of the 12th floor where I live. I actually have some open fields on one side of my building and views of Suzhou Creek. When I get back I will be looking for another string player to be my roommate, preferably a local Chinese cellist. But violin, viola, piano or another instrumentalist would be fine too.
I’m just enjoying a relaxing summer now, seeing some friends and family and loving having good-to-drink tap water. And I am very happy to have a few engagements to play with Aardvark String Quartet in the region. It’s shaping up to be a well rounded summer!