The City that Never Sits

New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Shanghai doesn’t even sit down, and not just because there is no room.

Patricia Marx

When I asked my uncle, who has travelled all over the world, whether it’d be a good idea to visit Shanghai, he told me it’s similar to many big cities; if you want to see real scenery, go to Inner Mongolia, Yunan, Jiuzhaigou Valley, or Xinjiang (although it has gotten a bit dangerous recently).

Nonetheless, considering the popularity of Shanghai, I decided to spend a couple days here the summer of 2012. In comparison to Beijing, Shanghai seemed a bit weak at first. There’s neither a Great Wall that stretches miles and miles across provinces, nor the preservation of a Forbidden City that once housed our emperors. I was beginning to agree with my uncle until I saw the view of the Bund at night. It was quite a contrast in architectural designs. I was surrounded by remnants from the British and French colonizations, and for a moment, I thought I was in another continent! Everything was dazzling with gold. My friend and I took the ferry to the other side of the Bund, and even though my feet were giving out on me, my heart fuelled my footsteps; it was too good of a night to not be outside. 

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Then just when I thought there was nothing more to see, we came across a band performing by the corner, surrounded by a crowd. Usually, we would stop to give a couple changes and walk away, but this time, their voice and melody completely immobilized me. I just wanted to sit down and listen to their singing all night. I never heard the song before but something in their singing reminded me of my childhood, one that was filled with sweet memories, and how long it has been since I came home, and how long it will take before I can return again. It made me wonder about their journey and stories, and whether this was their home. What are their dreams?

Quand je pensais qu’il n’y avait plus rien à voir, nous avons rencontré un groupe jouant par le coin, entouré d’une foule. Habituellement, nous nous arrêtions à donner quelques changements et partions, mais cette fois, leur voix et la mélodie m’a complètement immobilisé. Je voulais juste de s’asseoir et d’écouter leur chant toute la nuit. Je n’ai jamais entendu la chanson avant, mais quelque chose dans leur chant me rappelle mon enfance, celui qui a été remplie de doux souvenirs. Combien de temps il a passé depuis que je suis à la maison? Et combien de temps il faudra avant que je puisse revenir? Cela m’a fait réfléchir sur leur voyage et les histoires, et si c’était leur maison. Quels sont leurs rêves?

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