rageprufrock: (east coast tourist)
So my two-week vacation was/is being spent in Shanghai, which is less exotic and thrilling than you would think because everybody I am related to in the entire world lives here and all of them want to discuss with me (a) how much money I make (oh my God, why Chinese people) (b) why I am not yet married or at least engaged and of paramount importance is (c) why I am fat.

Still, mostly this is stuff that happens every time I roll into town so it's ignorable; the problem with this trip is of course the fact that Shanghai is hosting the World Expo beginning May 1 of 2010, and the entire city is being ripped up, guts out, to put in up to 13 subway lines, redo the roads, and literally subsume the 8-lane road that bisects the Western bund so all vehicle traffic goes underground and above turns into a pedestrian walkway -- translation? Dust, everywhere. Building, everything. Traffic nightmare, everywhere.


The other thing about visiting Shanghai is that it's always a living lesson in Ancient Survey 10, which I took at UNC in a room with purple walls that was perpetually 10 degrees too cool. The one lesson that I've been able to see in action is that the better something is destroyed, the more completely it's preserved. If it still stands -- like the gorgeous rowhouses in the French Quarter or tall-windowed two-stories in the English sphere of influence or the broad, old schoolbuildings that were my parents' middle schools during their pre-Communist lives -- these things, they vanish, they get built over, they get converted. My grandmother's apartment, which used to have a beautiful hexagonal-tiled bathroom with a claw foot French tub and 12-foot ceilings, wrought-iron windows that opened outward and a cunning little sink, was ripped into two and converted into two soulless white-tiled things for the two apartments that the second and third floor of the townhouse were turned into. Most of the wide-windowed houses, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when Shanghai was more or less everybody's Girl Friday, are being ripped up and replaced now, their old and aging tenants bought off, to make way for astronomically expensive apartments in the heart of the city. (Just for shits and giggles, I checked out one of the developments -- average price? 30,000RMB per square meter in the city center -- divided by 7 for the exchange, that's still about $4,300 per square meter and that this is batshit expensive when the average income is $45,000. And keep in mind, when you buy something in China, you're buying a concrete shell and some space -- it's not actually livable, you have to remodel it for human consumption on your own dime.)

Anyway, tomorrow is my last day in the city, so I'm taking my camera and ditching the fam. I am probably going to eat and do inadvisable things. May the force be with me.

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