The History of Nai

The History of Nai

We went around town with the gramps today. For lunch, we ate at Bi Feng Tang in the old Shanghai district of Luwan– where my grandmother grew up. Had a lot of tasty morsels, including eggrolls, baozi’s (buns), thai noodles, fish, sesame balls, and veggie wedges (see John’s food and drink guide). After the hearty meal, we went for a walk. Nai’s face lit up every time we passed cross streets she recognized. She’d tell us, “There was a place down that way where we used to order nian gao (a white sticky vegetarian dish)– the best in town!” or “The vendor at this street corner had the best roasted chestnuts.” She seemed so excited to be here. We went searching for her great aunt’s home– she said it was near the intersection of Huai Hai and Chongqing Rd. She had gone there several years back but no longer remembered the address. Going on memory, she led us to the southwest corner of the intersection. After trying several alleys, we found the one Nai remembered. When we asked around for where the Chen family lived, many of the younger adults said they had never heard of the name. What was the business, they asked? An herbal medicine shop–at least that’s what the family ran in the past. No one seemed to know. They told us to ask the elderly so we went knocking on the door of a very old woman–she must have been 90 years old. The Chen family lived next door to her, but the house had been vacant for a long time. It was no longer the primary residence and only ocassionally would she see her neighbors. My grandmother wrote a note and stuck it in the door. When we went around the corner of the house, Nai told of how as children, she and her cousins run around the side of the house and clamoured at the kitchen window, trying to get the attention of her great aunt who was hard of hearing. In the cab ride home, Nai seemed very energized and excited. She has very many fond memories of Shanghai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *