Tuesday, 14 August 2007

A Changing Shanghai

When I first arrived in Shanghai I found myself sitting on a train with my mother. A man walked up and down through the carriages selling maps. We bought one and someone sitting near us commented, "Why buy a map? Shanghai is changing every day. Tomorrow the roads will be different."

Of course to a newcomer this comment seemed a bit absurd but what he said was entirely the truth. Shanghai is changing every day at an extremely rapid rate.

Another day I was out with my mother and we were browsing the big Xinhua bookstore in Grand Gateway. I hovered around the English section (very small) and browsed through the books which were not wrapped in plastic. I came across a book called "A Changing Shanghai" and made a note to myself I would buy it later. Well yesterday I finally bought it. It is a fascinating book filled with photos of Shanghai taken 10, 20, 30 years ago and photos of the same places as they look today. I an endlessly fascinated with photos such as these. I already own several books like this about Sydney.

I feel so many emotions (shocked, saddened, confused, excited, happy, strange, humbled, perplexed, amazed) when I look at such photos comparing the same place with photos taken decade/s apart.

I feel sad because I'm a very nostalgic and sentimental person and I always like to have things the way they were and don't really like change. But on the other hand I realise change can be for the better and the Chinese are a tad obsessed with 'progress' and building more and more. One final thing I wanted to say was - in most cases the photos were only taken 10 or 20 years apart whereas in many parts of Sydney you need about 50 years to see some real change. I know that the suburb I grew up on has barely changed at all and most of the houses on my street are still the same (albeit renovated). There have been a few changes over the last 20 or so years, but the really drastic ones happened about 50 years apart.

Here are some pictures from the book:

Hongqiao Road station 1983

Hongqiao Road station 2004

Pudong exit of the Yan'an tunnel 1990

Pudong exit of the Yan'an tunnel 2004

Xujiahui 1990

Xujiahui 2004 (virtually unrecognisable!)

If you are interested in buying it you can get it from any bookstore in Shanghai that sells English language books. The prologue is in both English and Chinese. The cover is silver and there is also a second edition with a bright green cover.

1 comment:

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