As I’ve noticed, things in China are meant to be swallowed: the dingy apartment complexes, newspaper stands, drink vendors, all of it. There a silence that seemingly lingers in places only alive in memories, one that begs to be remembered. I think places like these make me particularly conflicted because I nostalgically remember bits of the old China with warmth. This is without saying that China’s current progression is bad or anything (its level of progression though quite frightening) but there is so much being left behind in the wake of the construction.
Zhejiang, China is currently in a movement to demolish the old and construct new modern, glamorous buildings. With this movement, comes the reconstruction of many older living spaces such as this.
This picture in particular reminds me of the old street my grandparents use to live at. Every morning peddlers and vendors would gather to sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and snacks. It was lovely and alive but no longer existent. For my Expository Writing class, this is what I wrote of it:
There sometimes comes a greedy craving for the old days when my grandfather’s lungs were still clean and not swept away by the smokestacks and ashes of the industry. When he walked with two legs, no cane, and brought the smell of kitchen spices to the dusty streets. There was a mid-July day, the sky ablaze in colors that no longer exist, in which he brought me, hand-in-hand, to his old home at Lu Chuan Road. There was a spirit that seeped from the dog-eared rooftops to the windows, where wet laundry, in a gathering of colors, hung like Christmas lights. It could be felt against the pavement with the bicycles that croaked as they whipped past and left dust storms in their wake or the rumble of old motorcycle engines trying to start up again.
A former kitchen.
I guess I’m the kind of person that looks at a place like this and wonders who could have lived here and of their stories and becoming. I wonder what this place meant to them and if they were sad or excited to leave behind this old piece of their past.