While wandering the streets of Shanghai, I watched this young woman on the street. Delivering something? Perhaps. Watch her. Watch the direction of her head as she glances upon the glitz in the shop window and then continues on to complete her tasks.
It seems that this tattered door with peeling paint leads into people’s lives. Do you see the mail boxes? Someone must be living here. Who?
Are they as worn as the door? As broken as the door knob?
Does the door hide a lonely woman who is waiting for her son to call? Does an old man check the rusted mailbox each day, hoping for a letter from his daughter? Does it lead to an apartment filled with a happy, noisy family? Does it open to an artist pouring his soul into his music?
Does the door open to lives of despair…or hope?
I surreptitiously watched card games and Mahjong games being played on make-shift tables on sidewalks all over Shanghai and Feicheng. The players, seated on small collapsible stools, spent hours at their games.
I was disappointed that I was never able to get a picture.
At the end of my stay in Feicheng, I had a few hours to wander in the park across from our hotel, and finally got my shot, not of cards or Mahjong, but something equally absorbing. The haze of cigarette smoke drifted amidst the men who were so focused on the game that they took no notice of me or my camera.
I am intrigued by this building that I passed several times in my solo wanderings around Shanghai. Do people still live there? It appears that they do because of the open windows and laundry. On the other hand, is it vacant — or nearly vacant, waiting for the demolition crew? On the ground floor, the shops appear to be boarded up. Across the street is an upscale apartment complex and, as you can see, behind it is a sea of high-rise apartment buildings. (Click on an image to enlarge it.)
I’ve recently returned home from my travels and work in China and when I saw this week’s theme of “leading lines” from Where’s My Backpack, I immediately thought of the Yuyuan Gardens in Old Shanghai. These beautiful gardens were first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty. They had fallen into disrepair and were almost completely destroyed by the British during the Opium Wars; fortunately, they have been restored and provide a quiet respite from the chaos and noise of the tourist marketplace of Old Shanghai.
Pan was a master of using the “leading lines” to beckon the visitor into the gardens. I imagine Pan Yunduan’s visitors as they were drawn further in, wandering through the harmony of water, wood, and stone, and I can picture them sitting on one of the many benches, meditating or gossiping.
Sometimes a picture might tell a story. Perhaps this one tells a little about life in Shanghai. Perhaps it tells a larger story.
The two men in the foreground: I wonder what they are thinking. One appears to be anxiously looking for something. A taxi maybe? The other, casually crouching on the curb. Is he waiting for a ride? Just passing the time?
Look closely inside the gate. A young couple (perhaps students because they are both wearing backpacks) pass by rows of doors that lead into the lives inside the apartments. Laundry hangs from the windows and across the narrow street. Most of the apartments have window air-conditioning units. It looks as if this was once a modern and upscale apartment complex.
More people are deeper inside, heading toward us. There must be another entrance into the complex because there are a few cars, and of course, the ubiquitous bike, both motorized and foot-powered, and it doesn’t look as if a car would fit through this iron gate.
I frequently go about my life, concerned about only that which directly affects me. I don’t consider that there are countless numbers of people all over the world who have their daily problems, concerns, joys, and loves. I believe that it is important to stop and think for a moment that we all share the same desires, not just for food, shelter, and clothing, but for companionship, safety, and peace. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we find a way to fulfill these desires, and, if we are very fortunate, we might find a little love along the way.
I am learning to treasure my alone time, even when traveling. There’s always that desire to say, “Oh wow! Look at that!” when I see something spectacular or quirky. However, there’s a peace in alone, and a serenity in quiet. I have also found that spending time alone in a foreign country builds strength and confidence — or perhaps it’s just makes one slightly wacky, which I don’t mind at all.
Today, I enjoyed myself immensely, wandering around Old Shanghai and the Yuyuan Gardens alone. I had visited the gardens with my friends last summer and was eager to get more pictures this year. At first, I was a bit disappointed because some areas were closed off for repairs and because the place was crowded. The throngs of people made it a bit difficult to find a quiet nook to meditate or a scene to photograph. I decided to take a different approach and took pictures of the people and the details of the elaborate carvings and figures on the roofs and walls rather than on larger vistas.
Last year, I took a picture of this famous dragon slithering his way across the top of a wall and got a few shots of him again today.
What I did not notice last summer, or today until I saw the images on my computer, is that the dragon has a little friend. Now I’m curious.
I couldn’t find much information on the Internet about this little guy, but it seems that the frog likes the saliva dripping from the dragon’s open mouth, which contains a pearl. The pearl symbolizes wealth and wisdom; therefore, as the frog laps up the saliva, I suppose he is becoming richer and wiser. The frog, himself, symbolizes wealth and immortality. A symbiotic relationship? If anyone has more information, I’d love to hear it.
Tomorrow, I leave Shanghai to being work in Feicheng, in the Shandong Province.
When I started blogging in January, I viewed it as an isolated endeavor, a forum in which to practice writing and photography and to record events in my travels and daily life. It did not occur to me that I would develop friendships online. There are several people whose blogs I follow closely and I have begun to get a sense of the person behind the blog.
Although I do not share intimate aspects of my life on my blog, I do share enough that those who follow it know quite a bit about me. Because I’ve written about my travels and job in China last summer, I’ve “talked with” quite a few English speaking bloggers who live in this vast country.
One such person is Sandi, an American who lives and works in Hangzhou, about an hour from Shanghai. She writes an inspirational blog about her profession as a midwife and about her incredible weight loss journey. Check it out: Flamidwyfe’s Blog.
What a treat today when Sandi met me in Shanghai! As we explored the city via foot, subway, bus, and taxi, I found that I like this strong, intelligent, and funny woman who grew up just a stone’s throw from where I lived and taught in Florida (we both miss the South Florida beaches).
I don’t know if I’ll see Sandi in person again, but I’m sure that we will continue to relate through our blogs and email. (I love the Internet!)
Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
I find that a lot of people shy away from my camera; however, as I was waiting to cross the street, this traffic assistant continued to stare at it. Initially, being the paranoid woman that I am, I thought I’d done something wrong, that I should not be taking pictures in public.
Then I asked him (words & pointing) if he wanted me to take his picture. He gave a big grin and nodded yes. As I focused the lens on him, he took on this official pose. Cool guy!