Being Inspired, maybe - 83

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

There was something ironic about getting a message on my phone, particularly when it could have been so much easier if it had come ten minutes earlier.

It was for a meeting.  Whilst in normal circumstances it could have taken place at the hotel, the person I was going to meet was very careful about being seen with westerners.

And there was no guarantee the hotel and every inch of the lobby was not under surveillance.  After all, this was China, and everything and everyone was being watched.

But, I was in the car, hired previously over the internet, on my way from the airport to the hotel, one of the more luxurious in Shanghai.

I had been looking forward to having an hour soaking away the muscular niggles brought on by the flight.  That would have to wait.

Just as the car pulled outside the hotel, I received another message advising she had just got to her room and asking if there was anything I needed.

There was.  I told her to find the concierge and ask for instructions to get to the maglev station and be ready to go out again.

I checked in, made a brief stop at my room to quickly freshen up, and then headed downstairs.  There i made an effort to greet [name] with the element of surprise as if running into her again was not planned, and then deciding to accompany her as if I had been asked to escort her in a foreign city.
Of course, I was only too happy to do so, and anyone listening or looking would get to point.

The instructions to the maglev station were convoluted at best, with a communication breakdown playing a part.  Apparently, we had to walk a fair distance to Laoximen station take a line 10 train and head towards East Nanjong station where we changed trains to line 2 heading towards Longjang road station.  It was also a train to the airport, and it felt weird to be heading back towards the airport again.

As I said, convoluted.  And, after 12 hours in-plane and several more at either end in airports, a magical mystery tour of Shanghai underground rail network wasn't my idea of fun.  And especially so when I realised the maglev also headed towards the airport.  Perhaps there was more than irony involved here.

We were both tired, and that's when mistakes were made.  At least between the two of us, that might not happen. 

It didn't.  As the whole of the underground network was relatively new and easy to follow, it didn't take long, even though two changes of the train were required.  Both of us kept an eye out for anything that looked like we were being followed and also checking where the CCTV cameras were, and played our roles accordingly.

I think we'd established that the reason for returning to the airport was to check if anyone had found a misplaced jacket that she had not necessarily lost. 

After purchasing return tickets, using a rather stumbling version of Chinese the ticket seller appeared to understand, we went onto the empty platform. 

My phone vibrated in my pocket.

A message.

In the distance, we could see the next train slowing as it approached the station.

I pulled the phone out of my pocket and made a show of checking the time with that of my watch and making sure my back was to the camera watching us before checking the message.

"Fourth carriage from the end, sixth seat, window."

As there were not many passengers heading to the airport on the next train i figured my contact would be able to pick a spot.  Failing that. It would be one row back if the nominated seat was taken.

I knew what my contact would be wearing, and it was unlikely the carriage would have more than one.

The train pulled into the station and finally stopped.  The doors opened and an unusually large number of passengers who were also travellers got off.

We made our way towards the fourth carriage, and after waiting for the last of the exiting passengers, got in via the end door.  We had a short walk to a seat three behind the target.

There was no one in the sixth seat.

We waited.

The doors closed and the train was on the move.  There were about 12 other passengers in the carriage.

"Where is he.  Or she?" she whispered.

"I've no doubt all will be revealed.  Just remember to ask about the newspaper at the appropriate time.  But, for now, just sit tight and enjoy the ride."

To me, the train sounded like any other train, even though it had no wheels, and went a hell of a lot faster.  430 kilometres per hour in fact, and when it hit that speed, I failed to notice our target had taken the nominated seat.

The trip had taken all of 8 minutes.

At the airport station, we waited until the target left his seat, the followed.  By the seat, I dropped my cell phone and then made a show of picking it back up.  Then she said, "Is that a Chinese newspaper on the floor?"

I picked it up, a crumpled copy of the Shanghai Daily, and handed it to her.

"Oh, good.  I was hoping there would be a paper I could read."

I put my phone back in my pocket, and we left the train.

Mission accomplished.  I had more detailed instructions for the next meeting.

© Charles Heath 2019


  1. Just amazing seriously just amazing. .....
    My blog→

    Marry Christmas


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