it is 2 PM on Tuesday and a group of men sit on a bare mattress and play cards in this neighborhood south of the Bund. In the makeshift structures to the left other men sleep. The old neighborhoods are disappearing rapidly and most residents have been relocated to modern apartments with indoor kitchens and bathrooms, something lacking in these old homes. But not everyone is gone; some are elderly long-time residents who don’t want to leave the [place that is home, but many are migrants from rural China, drawn to Shanghai for work tearing down old neighborhoods and building the luxury, high-rise condos that are displacing them. Catch 44.
*There are large gaps in the 365-Photo-Project, but the exist online only. I have thousands of pictures, shot every day, but Adobe Lightroom 5 crashed disrupted my workflow.I’m unable to import and process my pictures as I have been doing. I’m trying various work arounds, none ideal. I am slowly working to process the pictures to fill the gap (between 252 and today).
A woman uses a pole to hang her clothes on an overhead pole.
Apartments in China can be small and appliances such as clothes dryers rare, so it is quite common to see clothing hanging outside to dry. In fact, I had to argue with our Ayi when we first got here because she wanted to hang our clothes out on the balcony; she refused to use the clothes dryer, saying she trusted God but not the machine. I insisted that the machine had to be used (even though it doesn’t vent to the outside–but, hey, China!) and eventually she acquiesced. But I understand her perspective, As a kid growing up in Queens, NYC every backyard had a clothesline strung across it and laundry day was filled with the sound of clothes flapping in the breeze. Here in Shanghai space is at a premium so by necessity any horizontal pole, bat, or wire can become a suitable “clothesline”.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the most interesting journeys are comprised of meandering side trips and random tangents. I rarely travel in a straight line. My walks around Shanghai tend to be guided by the four compass points, but little else. On this particular day I decided to walk home the 8 km from my chiropractor’s office rather than take a taxi, or jump on the metro. After all, the temperature was not oppressive and the air quality was not disabling. Strike while the iron is hot. I walked from Tomorrow Square, through People’s Park and then cut up a side street in order to avoid the tourist crowds and street hustlers of East Nanjing Pedestrian Street– think Times Square, New York without the annoying costumed characters. Away from that famous part of Shanghai is where the people conduct their everyday lives, cooking, cleaning, shopping and socializing. I get the occasional stare as I am often the sole laowai to be seen wandering around the narrow streets lines with shops that sell door hinges and nuts & bolts and light bulbs and toilet plungers. It is on these streets where the security guard gets his foot massage and eats dinner, where the ayi buys her live fish and fresh vegetables for the evening meal. This is the China you miss if you stay on the main roads and travel in straight lines.