Thursday, 27 March 2008

Defending my 'home' city/cities

I just had this weird random thought about how I'm always defending my 'home' and saying how great it is and recently I've found myself not caring much or thinking much about my real 'home' (that is Sydney).

Maybe it's because I've lived there too long (27 years give or take!) but I used to be so proud of living there. I used to spend a lot of time in the CBD (AKA 'downtown') area wandering the streets because my university was located there. In my lunch break or other break I'd go to Hyde Park and stroll around. I LOVED Hyde Park. I don't know how many times I went there during my many years of study. The beautiful wide path down the center with large trees that curved inwards to form a canopy (I believe that they have since been cut down due to disease :( ), the Anzac Memorial, the big fountain. It was my sanctuary from the hustle and bustle and traffic and people.

I loved going to Circular Quay. Every single time I go to Circular Quay I get this shivery happy feeling all over. It's the most beautiful view in the world seeing the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in all their glory.

Since I love photography (and always have) and I was so proud of Sydney, I found myself offering to take photos for strangers, and randomly chatting about things to do in Sydney or helping people who got lost. Back in the days when I was a student.

I'd always be telling interstate or overseas friends how great Sydney was. Blabbering non-stop. And now I find myself doing the same thing for Shanghai.

Except it's different.

I feel myself having to defend where I live all the time, because it's not as 'cool' as New York, or London, or Paris, or Tokyo or any other so-called 'great' city. Because everyone looks down on China as being poor, overpopulated, polluted, a country that makes shoddy goods, etc. OK so all of that is all true ;) but that doesn't mean you can't live here and have a decent life.

It's also different when you go to a city for travel or to live. Totally different. You can't assume because you loved a place you travelled to that living there will be great, or if you hated it that living there would be torture. Actually in most places once you live there long-term it's not as fun as if you just spent a week there on vacation. What I find is that the more open-minded people will have more fun in Shanghai and the closed/narrow-minded people won't, for vacation or for living. Just thinking about all the people that have stayed with us as guests or other people I've met through other means it's funny how everyone's outlook is so different.

Prior to my stint here, I'd never left Sydney for more than 3 months (and that was an extended vacation to Taiwan). But after this experience I regret I didn't live overseas sooner and earlier. But I guess you learn from your 'mistakes' and now I can't wait to move elsewhere and try out a new city. I think that once you stay somewhere for too long you become stagnant, you don't grow and change, and also the negatives of the city will creep up on you and gradually start to outweigh the positives. Well, that's how I feel about Sydney right now and I'm pretty sure soon enough I'll feel the same about Shanghai (unfortunately).


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