Welcome to my new home.
The view from the center of my apartment complex, looking up into the sky.
This is what a typical Shanghai residence looks like. Packed to the brim, maximizing what little amount of space there is by putting laundry out to dry on poles hanging from the windows. The cascade of t-shirts, socks and jeans that fly through the air on a sunny day for laundry is what I love so much about Shanghai. There’s an abundance of life and character packed into every Shanghai neighborhood, and this “closeness” is exactly the kind of environment I have been in constant search for. There is nothing more charming than living in downtown Shanghai with the locals.
As you can see, I still have quite a few things to learn when it comes to hanging laundry from the bamboo poles. My monkey pajamas fell to the 4th floor, while my jeans simply seem unreachable down there on the 2nd floor pole.
Meet my neighbor, GuiGui (or as my Japanese friend named him, Ki-chan). He lives in the sink in my balcony, and he’s a nice little turtle that feasts on extra shrimp and pork given to him by my nice neighbor. My neighbor is a warm and talkative Shanghainese lady in her 50’s or so, and she whips up some damn good lookin food that always has my mouth watering with its delicious smells that come wafting through my window. Ayi’s (as I will call my neighbor) Mandarin is laced in a heavy Shanghai accent that has not only my ears, but brain strained in trying to comprehend whatever she tries to say to me. She is my master here in my new downtown home: Not only has she taught me the way to hang and dry clothes without the wind blowing my pants and underwear down to the lower levels, but she is also giving me free Shanghai dialect lessons that will hopefully come in handy someday (maybe?)
I live in the old district of Shanghai, a neighborhood filled with old, European infused Chinese buildings trying to survive in a world where where industrial development thunders on with the daily drill of erection for new business. To most foreigners, this area is called the “French Concession” due to the unique, French trees that dote the pathways and sidewalk. The French Concession is filled to the brim with bars, clubs, and foreigners; but even more so, the neighborhood thrives with the locals and their carefree, casual way of life. Despite the horde of department stores and 20 story corporations that seem to be popping up all around them, the locals still continue to buy vegetables from the local market, play mah-jong in the street and chat amongst themselves as they hang their daily dose of laundry.
I couldn’t live in a better place. When I came to Shanghai, I never imagined I would find this magical spot called “Shanxinanlu 陕西南路,” and quickly make it my new home.