Speaking about commuting, as I did yesterday, I decided to record my Shanghai morning commute. It’s normally about eight minutes. I could probably do it in six-and-a-half without running if I had to. So I brought my camera and took pictures every dozen yards or so sometimes looking forward, other times to the side.
What can I say? I consider community more important all the time.
I live in a beautiful part of the French Concession. I started with the interior of the old three-story building I live in. People call the building old Chinese style in that people use its common spaces for storage, drying racks, cooking spaces, and so on… a different view of privacy than the U.S. I say a few words in Chinese when I can to the people in the halls cooking or whatever and a few words in English to the little girl of the family on the ground floor who have expanded into everyone’s common space with their kitchen.
Anyway, it’s a nice commute down a tree-lined street with small brick buildings. The pictures show how I start my day —
- people walking and biking casually
- a few workers eating breakfast on a low table
- a guy brushing his teeth in the street
- people’s laundry drying overhead
- small shops like a florist and wine shop along the way.
When I turn the corner I see
- a tiny two-table outdoor sushi café/gallery/bar American zoning would never allow but adds great character
- parents dropping off their kids to school
- small alleys
- tons of bikes parked on the sidewalk (Americans’ complaints that their cities don’t allow bikes sound ridiculous when you see eighty year olds biking here in 90+ degrees with big loads)
eventually leading to a big street — Huaihai Lu — with a fast food joint. Cars move slow enough that people cross without a traffic light and I could stop and take pictures while cars moved past.
Then I enter the compound with my school, also a small, three-story building with its little courtyard, probably once a home. It’s a lovely walk. I guess if you work from home or have a similar commute I might take back what I said yesterday about your commute being too long.
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