home at last
After a 13 hour flight, and 2 airports, home is the absolute best place to be. The familiar rooms, the sense of belonging, and most importantly your own bed and shower. I was talking to a friend recently who said home is where your ‘stuff’ is , and somehow there is a lot of truth in that. We nest like birds and eventually the the twigs we collect along the way become our comfort, our security, and our home.
photo: a leftover Christmas decoration on the window looking out at the skyline of Shanghai
passage way to elsewhere
It is that time of year, when we tend to intend to much. Christmas is a bell ringer for the next major event, the new year. Every new year, we feel the need for a clean slate, for putting the present year behind us and planning for a better new one. With the great myriad of forces criss crossing our planet, we feel so driven to fill up our sometimes unrealistic ‘to do list’ and ‘to be better list’ with full confidence that we will fulfill our intentions. Because of our eager wish to control the events of the year to come, we forget to leave room for the unknown, for the future that is trying to happen and for the mystery that lies ahead.
So for this year, I will leave a big chunk of empty space on my diary page of new year resolutions and a great big welcome to all that is coming from and leading us to elsewhere.
winter lights and magic
Today was the day Nikolaus comes to see German children and they get ready for him by cleaning their boots (Nikolaus Stiefel) and setting them out at night to wake up to sweets and presents if they were good the past year or a tree branch in the boot if they were not. Lea lives in a constant state of expectancy and awe at the magic of this time of year and she is completely absorbed in her innocent belief that the extraordinary is part of life, a life that she never allows to become mundane.
So we have been baking cookies, decorating daily, making crafts, and waking up to surprises for the last few weeks swearing never to let the magic slip away.
living the future now
Living in this giant expanding metropolis, we sometimes forget how impressive its rapid growth is, until someone visits and we play the role of tour guide only to rediscover and be awed again and again by the speed at which the future is catching up with Shanghai. Everywhere you look, new construction sites are mushrooming and high rises appear as if out of no where. What is the master plan here? How far is it going and to what end? It certainly is fascinating to be at the center of it all; another human race empire in the making.
photo taken: woman making a video of the 360 degree movie in the urban planning museum in Shanghai
back to the city of lights
The first thing that amazes me coming back to Shanghai is the abundance of artificial light. Chinese people love lights, in their toys, on their cars, on their bodies, in their skies, on their buildings, in their windows, on their pens,… everywhere. You cannot escape being almost blinded by lazer light salespeople roaming the streets and pointing their dangerous lights into your unsuspecting eyes. It is the culture that invented fireworks and celebrates it as an omen of good luck. It is a stark contrast to the quiet and moon lit nights I got to experience on this long trip.
Wake up! You’re in Shanghai!
Funny thing about living in China when it is your birthday; you celebrate it and then you are asked by a local how old you are, which you admit truthfully and try to be all graceful about the whole thing, until they ask, “is that in western years?”, “beg your pardon?” you ask, and then, just like that, they add a year to your already ancient age. Your birthday is the day you are conceived and not the day you are born, so here take 9 extra months on top!
Cheers, my friends, one day I will go back to the West and gain a year back 🙂
the power of color
From the first few days of life, babies are drawn to certain colors. We live in a colorful world, amazing, bright, inspiring, glowing if you think about it. It would be so horrible had we been born in a gray world, or if we were not given the power of seeing color. But no, we can see color, we are influenced by color, we can create with color, we use it to define our nation flags, we create codes with it, we can choose which colors we keep close to us. There is the blue that calms us, the white that gives us clarity, the red that invigorates us, the yellow that plays on our emotions, the orange that tickles our taste buds, the purple that takes us outside of ourselves, … what a mystery! I love color, I love to watch its effects on life around me, I love to see what color is prominent each day, I love to play with it, to mix it, to enhance it, to mute it, to be with it and to marvel at what it can so softly do to my life.
There are times in our speedy and hectic lives when we feel drained, exhausted, worn out, a bit lost, dispersed, spent… On such days the recharging and healing can only come from one place. We are gifted with a pot of gold, it is part of our package deal. It has never failed me yet and it is so simple. It is about going inside of oneself, being internal, regathering, realigning, relocating and dipping into our inner strength. Taking the time to do this is priceless, because living among the lost is not living at all.
cycling Shanghai streets by night
Bicycles are a staple of Shanghai streets. A big part of the charm of a city like Shanghai comes from its bicycle traffic jams, the multipurpose use of the bikes around the city as a means of transporting anything from a person, a small family, chickens, eggs, to sometimes a whole set of living room furniture. The infrastructure of bicycle is so advanced and complex in this city and it remains the main means of transportation even with the fast modernization and the increased number of cars that the more well-off people are buying. The day bikes disappear from Shanghai will be the day this great city looses its charm.
Each time I went out at night I wished my Canon was with me to capture that side of life in the vibrant city. Tonight, I had the chance to do that. Shanghai is a city of many faces, and this one is certainly what makes it the sultry city that it is today. Its nights are alive with music, decadence, extravagance and a unique sense of style. This style is a result of the sudden modernism married to the unique charm that lives in the walls of this historical city, the chapters of rapid change it has seen in its development and the onset of a cosmopolitan culture that is rapidly engulfing the place. M1nt club, where these photos were taken tonight is one of the most ‘in’ places in Shanghai and is becoming more and more exclusive. I have always loved going to places like this for the surreal feeling I experience each time. I also love to dance 😉