大展鸿图: Achieving excellence

大展鸿图 Achieving excellence

The room was neat with its distinctly light turquoise-colored walls and dark wooden furniture.

It took a while to decipher the characters on the poster but it means 大展鸿图 (da zhan hong tu), “make your outlook brighter” or “achieve excellence”. With a soaring eagle over romantically painted mountains, it reminded me of motivational posters which had inspiring quotes like: “Perfection: To improve is to change; tobe perfect is to improve often (Churchill)”. It seemed like appropriate inspiration for one living in Shanghai. The city’s pace remains unrelenting and can be ruthless for the under-motivated and under-achieving.

With the demolition of the surrounding houses, the family of two (mother and son) now have an open lawn filled with smashed bricks, which allows sun to pour into the main hall of the house. Now that a cold snap has enveloped Shanghai, it also means the house will be colder without the insulation of the community of alley houses.

November 2009

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