Shanghai Farewell Tour: Tying up Loose Ends

Ten more days. That’s it.

Trish and Larry are safely back home again in Indiana, Melinda is in Redmond working and searching for a new place to live in Seattle and Thoraxis and I are wrapping up things here in Shanghai.

Counting down the last days in Shanghai

Counting down the last days in Shanghai

I spent the weekend sorting and organizing the apartment into three categories: Air Shipment, Sea Shipment and Carry it Back in Our Luggage. It always surprises me how much stuff we accumulate in a short period of time. It shouldn’t, but it does. We divested ourselves of almost everything we’d amassed during a ten-year stay in Idaho, and since then we’ve lived 18 months in a great Seattle house, 5 months in Chelsea, Manhattan, 7 months of great sunsets on the Lower Queen Anne waterfront (again, Seattle) and now 13 months in Shanghai. During each move we edit the things we own, parsing down to the bare minimum; I even get rid of shoes (but Melinda doesn’t). So, when the time comes to move again, I’m surprised that we have all this stuff to move; 100 cu feet by air, a 20 foot ship container and a total of 6 suitcases. Plus one extra dog.
Anyway, I digress.
Yesterday, Santa Fe Relo Services came to pack the apartment and now I sit in a stark, empty space with bare concrete walls, hard marble floors, and beige furniture. No art, no pillows, no rugs, no color. The curio cabinets are empty as are the kitchen cupboards. I went to the grocery and was buying eggs and pork chops until I remembered that I have no way to cook them. I got a Coke and a soft pretzel instead. I have a hotel room, I checked in yesterday, but I can’t bring Thoraxis so all I’m doing is showering there (I have no towels at the apartment). With everything and everyone gone, I spent the day defrosting the freezer we never used, except for one bag of frozen peas that we kept for a cold compress,  and I returned to the South Bund Fabric Market to pick up my jacket that was repaired. I bought the black, shawl-collared, knit jacket at a little boutique in the French Concession back in the Spring, but during our April trip to NYC I managed to shred the satin lining down the center seam. At first, nobody at the market wanted to take on the job of replacing the lining in a jacket someone else made, but I prevailed upon the couple–Jeanne & Peter, 1F No. 165– who made me a leather jacket to take on the project. They did a phenomenal job! Not only did they replace the satin lining, they added a folded pleat down the center so that when I awkwardly get in and out of the jacket I won’t tear it again. And they managed to retain the black & white striped piping that trimmed the lining.


A woman sews curtains on a street adjacent to the South Bund Fabric Market, in Shanghai, China

A woman sews curtains on a street adjacent to the South Bund Fabric Market, in Shanghai, China

Now that I’ve made a short story long, on to the topic at hand: Sidewalk Seamstresses. My journey to the Fabric market–Trish and Larry can tell you– entails riding the Ferry from Pudong then walking past The Cool Docks and through a couple of old, mostly demolished neighborhoods–slums– that abut the market. The few remaining streets in this area are lined with makeshift shops and booths selling all manner of fabric, elastic, buttons and zippers. Dotted among the mounds of velvet, silk and cotton are sidewalk seamstresses,making curtains and dresses and shirts and more. These are the local folks; they aren’t selling inside the market, to the tourists, they are making clothes for their neighbors who live down the block. At least until the rest of the neighborhood is demolished and they are forced to relocate for the privileged people moving into the new high-rise condos that are replacing their homes.
I’m pretty sure they won’t have the problem of having accumulated too much stuff.

A woman rests on a discarded sofa in an old, South Bund neighborhood that is being redeveloped with luxury condo projects.

A woman rests on a discarded sofa in an old, South Bund neighborhood that is being redeveloped with luxury condo projects.

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