Modernization at any cost

progress will wait for no one~ Shanghai's condemned alleys

progress will wait for no one~ Shanghai’s condemned alleys

Shanghai, the pride of China, races towards its future, bejeweled with glitzy sky scrapers, glowing with billions of energy consuming lights, employing the largest work force in the world, day and night, 7 days a week and waiting for no one to be ready for this epic change. In neighborhoods like this one, people are given very little notice before their homes get demolished giving room to bigger, more modern and more expensive buildings. The people themselves are moved to housing outside the city to start a new life with little character, with no traditions and with not much choice. Every week that I visit these alleys, I find that more and more of them has disappeared…

 

Day 9~ June 9th~ Xinjiang

life must go on

In the midst of a city being demolished, life refuses to stop and be arrested. Kashgar is rich with craftsmen of all kinds and to survive they must continue crafting and go on selling.

In the streets of the old city, this old metal craftsman was selling his creations while hammering away at a piece of metal that will become another household tool when he is done.

Day 5~ June 5th~ Xinjiang

the little man and the wheel

As beautiful as the old city of Kashgar is, it is also heartbreaking to visit. The charming old architecture is being demolished systematically by the authorities section by section for the last few years. The reason given: a possible danger from earthquakes the real reason, I leave for you to research. The locals are horrified as they are moved family by family outside the city and in place of their neighborhoods, malls, plazas, and fancy holiday housing is being planned and erected. Every year less and less of this historical city is left to admire and its traditions diluted slowly into the new characterless architecture. Yes, it is most definitely painful to see and to know about.

photo taken: a little family in front of a neighborhood condemned to be demolished in the old city of Kashgar

Day One Hundrend Thirty Seven, June 8, 2011

girl in Hongkou

Our most vivid memories come from events in our life that leave a big mark. I wonder how much this little girl will remember about having to move with her family from the neighbourhood of narrow lanes they have lived in for generations. She and her family happened to live in on of the condemned neighborhoods of Shanghai that are disappearing one after the other to give way to modern buildings, sky scrapers, malls, and large roads. The residents are being moved to other residential areas outside of Shanghai. I visited one of these neighbourhoods in Shanghai’s Hongkou area and walked through the alleys for a couple of hours watching the daily life of people who will need to make a huge adjustment in their daily routine only weeks from now. Imagine having to do that and having no say in the choice of your new home, your new neighbor, your new life… but Shanghai is a relentless growing machine that has no plans of stopping anytime soon. I wonder when old and charming Shanghai alleys will completely cease to exist…