There is a great magic to seeing a place at sunrise, before the rush of day clouds it. Early in the morning, there is a bliss that relaxes the faces of early risers, as though they are reminded that there is still magic in life, how can there not be? Light colors the sky as stars give way to the great sun, and stillness can still be heard over the water.
Big cities have this way of resembling beehives, busy, constantly moving. Most of these urban centers are jarring, fast, harsh, noisy, and unforgiving to all that is slow. Not Shanghai. Shanghai has a gentle flow about it, where people just glide by on their bicycles, slow enough to examine life around them and nod with recognition at friends in their neighborhood. A bicycle and tricycle culture, so much is moved around on wheels. As long as tradition lasts, this will be (at least to me) the greatest charm of Shanghai.
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…
She walked in color
For those of us who live in big cities, life can be overwhelmingly abrasive. The speeds we are forced to run at, the massive amount or impressions we need to process on a daily basis, the number of people we meet and pass by, the so many obstacles we have to navigate around to get from one point to the next, all these things force us to run fast and to move at the speed dictated by the engine of the metropolis.
I have recently discovered that you can enter a bubble where the world slows down, a magical dimension, where the city can become gentle, ethereal and its humans like butterflies fluttering by.
~ This blur series is hugely inspired by the work of three amazing artists: Michael, Brendan and Serap
Somewhere in Shanghai
I was born in a small village in Lebanon’s north. I saw almost the same faces every day and I knew that nothing was meant to stir after nightfall when we and the village slept. As peaceful as this might sound, it irked me greatly and I longed for movement, for change, for a world that does not sleep, for an energy that is unstoppable. I found that in the big city. I spent my teenage planning my way to move to a big city and to live in the middle of the whirlwind of humanity. Since then I have lived in Beirut, New York City and now Shanghai with several other city stops in between. I feel alive in the big city, I love its people, I am driven by its energy and it inspires me.
While I was living in New York City a few years back, I heard a story from a friend about eyes that stayed with me since. She said that a native American man came to the city once and realized how hard and unnatural the streets are on the human eyes. He explained that people are meant to gaze at far away horizons at least once a day and knowing that, he wondered how people can live in a big city where all impressions bounce back into their eyes at such close distances. In the metropolis our eyes work overtime on our behalf when we cross the street, walk on the pavement, dodge passersby and even at home in front of our fast-moving screens of impressions.
Photo taken: a woman on a pavement in Hanoi~ Vietnam
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
Shanghai, a city of soaring steel, a Gotham of Asia, a place that races to stamp it’s place in the modern world as a mighty metropolis and uses every resource it has to fulfill its visions of greatness. Every day of the week, of moment of the day and night, workers toil to add more and more height to the skyline of the city. These magnificent architectural creations are a wonder to behold, and they look different depending where you stand. Today, I was standing in between the twin towers of the IFC tower and the HSBC bank making the Jin Mao builiding and SWFC (nicknamed the bottle opener) look shorter in the distance.
Yes, I do miss the wild flowers living in Shanghai…
homeless in Shanghai
Can you imagine being all alone and homeless in a city of 20 million?
Can you imagine having to live on discarded scraps?
Can you imagine survival being your only obsession?
unable to look the other way today…