Qibao, Inside the Time Capsule

unbreakable friendships~ Qibao

unbreakable friendships

Time's indellible stamp~ Qibao

time’s indelible stamp

stolen sketches of a lost theater~ Qibao

stolen sketches of a lost theater

breaking ground~ Qibao

breaking ground

If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you~ Qibao

if I wanted your opinion I’d give it to you

softening the hard reality~ Qibao

softening the hard reality

who said Triad~ Qibao

who said Triad?

a controlled sea of humanity~ Qibao

a controlled sea of humanity

Hidden inside the massively dense Shanghai Metropolis is a quaint, albeit crowded small world of tradition. Bridges over water, narrow old streets, a wide variety of delicious street food and a beautiful old tea house.

In the tea house, mostly old men gather to drink tea and watch story telling theaters on a stage that echoes with ancient times.

Each time I go back there, I find the same people, doing the same things, as though they are caught in a time capsule and every day must be relived as it was the day before.

Nearby are the green lanes, where door after door girls and women offer their services for a price. Tickets to their worlds are sold on the main street of the old village.

Heartbreaking, surreal and intoxicating is Qibao.

harsh realities~ Qibao

a life she drifted into~

a life she drifted into~

a rough start at life~

a rough start at life~

In Qibao, and old area of Shanghai, is a neighborhood(if you can call it that) of green lanes. Confronting realities wait there behind each door and in front of some where young women prepare to sell themselves for a living. As much as this practice is as old as civilization itself, it remains heartbreaking to witness people’s daughters going through this to survive. And most painful of all was seeing a little girl forced to grow up in that strange world of green lanes.

 

Let me spin you a tale

with every puff of smoke, a story flows

with every puff of smoke, a story flows

I was walking in an old street in Shanghai with my camera taking in all the sights, smells and noises of the crowded narrow lanes when an unusual sight drew me in. I looked inside a smoky large room packed with  rickety tables, chairs, tea pots, and men in hats, so many men in hats. I walked in and after I stopped being looked at as the stranger in the village, I began to be approached by the curious of the gathered men. Each wanted to tell me stories, because this is what we humans do, we carry our his-story with us, in our minds, our hearts, etched on our faces and we long to tell them and to pass them on before we leave, so that parts of us can stay behind and make an indelible mark. I listened and tried my best to comprehend, but the best story this man can tell is written all over his face and I present it to you here in this frozen moment…

All that remains unsaid

as we zip through our busy lives

as we zip through our busy lives

You always hear stories of people on their deathbeds wishing they had said this or that to a loved one, wished they had expressed an emotion to someone that they know they should have, and wished that they would be allowed a second chance to say what they wanted to say but had no chance to. We design our lives in a way that creates valid excuses for our silence. We trade comfort and avoidance for confrontations and human expression. Where is the freedom in that?