I am back in Shanghai.
This time, as I touched the ground in the Pudong International Airport at 4:45pm, the air was so thick with toxic goo that it seemed I had arrived in a purple-yellow cloud. Exiting the airport, I was shocked by a smell of coal so strong that for the first time in my life, I worried about my lungs as I just stood there, waiting for a cab. Usually, a little scent of coal hanging in the air reminds me of high school days, riding bikes with Meimei in Beijing, eating ice cream with my first boyfriend as we walked along the streets outside of Middle School #2, or morning jogs around my residential compound with the same guards, neighbors and policemen hollering HELLO! at me at least once on each of my six loops. Those were lovely times, and I wallow in reminiscing about them.
Sadly, what was once a delicate sign to reminisce is now something hugely frightening. And then, a few hours later, jetlagged at 3am, I read the NYTimes to immediately come upon this: Tainted Eggs From China Discovered in Hong Kong
When Meimei passed away a few months ago, I realized it was time to leave. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do - business school? Travel? Be unemployed? Apply for positions at domestic VC firms in the US? I went back and forth, trying to decide what was best. I was being pulled in two directions:
A high-profile, exciting, influential job vs. a healthy, safe and happy life
When I finally made my decision a few weeks ago, I went to speak with the head partners at my firm. They balked. "You want to return to the US at THIS time?? Are you nuts? You are in the perfect place right now, everyone wants to be where you are," a very famous VC said to me (hence I'll keep his name confidential). If it's such a perfect place, then why aren't hugely successful, famous VC's such as himself spending more than one week per year in China?
It simply doesn't connect. Needless to say, there is something wrong with the argument for people to stay in an extremely unhealthy place simply for "success."