No matter where we go, how far we travel, there will always be a tug to go back home, to a place where we can close our door to the world and be safely alone for a moment, a place where we can hang our laundry to dry.
Behind her pink window, she sat, she looked, she watched, she felt safe, she followed me with her eyes, she questioned me with her mind, and she half smiled when I waved goodbye.
More than two thirds of the old city of Kashgar has been demolished and the rest doomed to follow shortly…
I met this girl in one of the narrow alleys of what is left of the old city as she stood framed by her old family door. Old decorated wooden doors are considered a family treasure among the inhabitants of Kashgar and the carry with them a richness of symbology and lore. A half open door for example is an indication that the master of the house is at home and male visitors may call in. I head while in Kashgar that when the homes are getting demolished, the families, unhinge their doors and take them with them to their assigned new homes, because these doors are holders of their family traditions that they are so afraid of losing.
Today, was a day of preparation to head west for a few weeks. No matter how long an expatriate lives in and makes China their home, the sense of belonging somewhere else is always prominent. Tomorrow my little family crosses a large part of the planet’s surface to get a dose of Western tradition for the holidays. And even though the city of Shanghai is bedecked from top to bottom with Christmas decoration to the degree of absurd, the essence of this specific holiday resides elsewhere and we are off to soak in it
Walking around the streets and alleys of Shanghai, I love to meet old people, the ones that represent the China that I had read about before moving here, the China of movies, of books and historical documentaries. And these people are still there, walking with their fans, with their tiny previously bound feet, with their age old traditions and they drift on the shores of the huge sea of modernism that is taking over China. And I wonder, how long will there be tai chi in the streets, mahjong in the parks, pajamas worn in the city, bird cages filling the park, crickets in tiny cages for good luck… when will all this start to become a thing of the past giving room to the ipod carrying new generation?
I feel so lucky to be witness to some of it that still lives on in the very few…