Trip Labels

Today my friend Dan became the happy husband of a beautiful girl named Mya. It was a nice ceremony full of great people. I was a groomsman. It was the first time since high school prom that I wore a tux. Someone remarked to me that I probably wouldn’t be wearing one again until *I* get married. That may very well be true.

I’ve noticed that every time I come home, there’s often a different atmosphere that blankets the nation, and it gives my visit a theme. This time I came home for these specific dates because I wanted to attend Dan’s wedding, but there were larger forces at work coloring my stay. Pop culture and marketing forces. This visit was the Low Carb visit.

This is not to say, of course, that my eating habits were at all low carb. Far from it. I value each and every meal at home too much to be more than just remotely concerned about petty “health” issues. Besides, I was looking to gain a few pounds. So no “low carb Doritos” for me (although I did try the new guacomole flavor — yum!).

So the themes went something like this:

  • Summer 2001: The first visit back. The country wasn’t significantly different from what I remembered yet, and the focus was “so how’s china?”* and “how long do you think you’re going to stay?”**
  • Summer 2002: The Post-9/11 visit. Quite a bit of time had passed since the actual terrorist act that rocked the nation, but its effects were still quite evident to someone who had not been in the U.S. when the attacks occurred and was not there for the subsequent aftermath.
  • Winter 2002: The Surprise Christmas Visit. The country was basically the same as during the Post-9/11 visit, so I concentrated on the surprise element to spend Christmas with my family.
  • Spring/Summer 2004: The Low Carb Visit.

So now that the latest visit is over, I return to Shanghai. I think I started to miss China a little at the 12-day mark. Or maybe I just miss my “mission” and life there. In any case, I’m headed back and will write more frequently once in Shanghai.

* Probably the single most frequent and annoying question I get. I believe that it is usually asked out of genuine interest, but the question is just too big!

** This is a question that won’t go away, but I finally have more definite answers. I’ll be writing more about this very soon.

wedding monkeys

P.S. My site was down for about half of yesterday because the hard drive on which my site was hosted crashed. All data has been recovered, and now I expect no more down time ever again. Ever!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Come back soon, John! We’re always glad to have you home.

    Judging from the picture, I can see why you don’t wear a tux very often: it sortta fits you ‘funny’.

  2. So how’s the U.S.?

  3. Atkins, Low-Carb … marketing on yogurt and bottles of water that say, “no carb/low carb” … confusing and fit for the fads and trends section. Especially confusing when Berkeley’s Powerbar promotes carbohydrates as “the body’s most efficient fuel, more efficient than protein.” The saddest is seeing desserts such as ice cream and cookies marked as ‘low-carb’ … eat dessert to enjoy the art and joy of eating dessert, not to feel guilty!

  4. Da Xiangchang Says: June 8, 2004 at 7:21 am

    Robert Atkins was a maniac. His low-carb (but extremely high-fat and -cholesterol) diet, if implemented by more Americans, will in the long-run make Americans even fatter and probably cause a major health-care crisis. It’s very easy for Americans to become thinner and healthier–eat like the Chinese and go for an after-dinner walk every night. But people are just too lazy, and those T-bone steaks are mighty tasty . . .

  5. Dan got married on June 5th, not June 6th.

  6. Grace,

    I wrote that post on June 5th. But the blog is set up for China’s time zone (although it’s actually an hour fast now, and I don’t know why), which is why the entry said June 6th.

    So there!

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