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Almost Christmas

It’s the afternoon of December 24, almost Christmas Eve. But I am not really in Christmas mood yet. Why? Probably because I decided to stay in Shanghai this year. Even though there are lots of decorations on the street and you hear Christmas songs everywhere, there is not really a Christmas spirit in China. People keep on working, if I look down from my apartment I see the construction workers building up another crane, and the traffic jams on Caoxi Lu are the same as on a normal Saturday. Another reason is that I am working as usual, some very interesting things are going on that keep me from really relaxing and putting away my laptop. Furthermore, Christmas is during the weekend so we do not take any days off at the office. Monday will be a normal workind day as well.

Still trying to create a Christmas atmosphere at home, by having a mix of 100 songs streaming from my iTunes and having a small Christmas tree with lights next to the TV. I am going out later to buy some Christmas food at City Supermarket, and I plan to make Gluehwein later. Qi’s parents are visiting and they will create a Chinese Christmas meal withs special dishes. I look forward to that!

The past days were busy as usual, but I also had some interesting meetings. On Wednesday I had lunch with Erwin den Breejen, he is a manager for IG&H Management Consultants. I never met him before, but got to know him through my weblog. He helped me with some questions during the preparations for my marriage (he also married a Chinese). He lives in Holland, but is on holiday in Shanghai with his wife. It turned out that we almost had been classmates: we were both admitted to Nijenrode business school in 1991 (now Nyenrode), but in the end I decided to study business economics in Maastricht instead. The world is small!

Talking about classmates, on Thursday night I had dinner and a couple of drinks with Hugo Verkuil, a fellow member of my fraternity in Maastricht, and now head of strategy for Unilever’s icecream division. He works from Rome, but spends about 5 days a week on airplanes. His colleague who I also met quickly noted that he sleeps more often next to Hugo (on airplanes – don’t get me wrong here), than Hugo next to his own wife. Hugo had been in Sydney the day before and had actually planned to fly from Shanghai to Bangkok at night but could not get a flight.

Interesting talks with him about how multinationals work, and the joys and sorrrows of being an entrepreneur. What I did not know is that Hugo actually set up a small but lucrative business in Holland while being a student. He bought second-hand washing machines and leased these to student homes, with maintenance included. Later he also diversified into bicycles for foreign students.

Time to go to the store, buy some Christmas food and try to switch to Christmas mood. Merry Christmas to all my readers!

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