A Dash of Color in a Dying Neighborhood

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My brain rattled from the thundering of the driller which was breaking apart the concrete walls of a shikumen. Looming above was a beautiful arc of water from a hose that was fighting to douse the rising dust.

As per the boundless wonder of physics, a sliver of a rainbow appeared underneath the water, setting the tone for the day.

By the intersection of Jiangning Lu (江宁路) and Changping Lu (昌平路) in northern Jingan district (静安区), another longtang neighborhood was being taken apart.

In a sea of wasted rubble where steel wires rose dangerously and deceptively like blooming flowers, a purple chaise beckoned us. It sat against the brilliance of a clear, blue sky, inviting us to watch the theatre of destruction.

Wading through half-torn houses, one observes fragments of past lives. A rumpled memory of primary school covered in dust. A sad teddy bear with its arms wrapped around a bleeding red heart.

And furniture, so much furniture was left behind. I suppose lives are to be lived, and the rest, is merely clutter.

Some chairs and sofas were broken beyond repair, others seemed in healthier states but were orphaned. They were all of such eclectic colors. I was compelled to arrange them in a circle for an impromptu tea party.

As we left what I have now termed ‘rubble settlements’, something caught my eye. A flash of bright green geometric design standing strong by the brilliance of its color, waiting too, to be taken apart.

November 2010

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