弄堂

Some grow up tough

  Others are born tough. He stared intently into my camera and slowly brought his handkerchief up toward me, as if he was readying to wipe my lens….

Alley bend blur

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” ~  H.G. Wells

Homework is an unending journey

The entire country is in a perpetual state of self-improvement so as to reach the next level of the socio-economic ladder. Since time immemorial, each generation worked to…

A negotiation in bread

The jolly baker was a fixture at the market where teaming masses of human bodies bumped and jostled their way around. He always had a smile on his…

A balloon a day…

A neighborhood market can sometimes be like the beating heart where all arteries lead to, the arteries being the longtangs or alley houses that surround it. There is…

Home owner, house father

I had never met a resident in the longtang (弄堂) who owned all three floors of his shikumen (石库门). The structure is traditionally narrow – the door opened into…

Carom precision

The balmy autumn afternoons seem so far away now that the cruel mistress that is winter taunts us with a wet chill that seeps into bones and dulls…

The makings of a humble pancake

For poor construction workers, each meal is about loading up enough carbohydrates to carry them through the day of heavy lifting, shoveling or jack hammering. The foundation ingredients…