"Do you find yourself at a moment of courage? ...What requires your courage today?"
Two and a Half Years Later...
I step foot back into China. Although it is the same city I once knew, it is very different. I expected the usual busy, bustling airport pack full of people. Waiting in the mile long line of people just to get through immigration. Quickly grabbing my bags from the mass of moving luggage, all to just wait as security scans our bags one last time. I expected all of this but was greeted with a quiet airport. No lines. No stores. Few people.
Instead of being assaulted with many cab dealers, there were only two. Usually I wouldn't agree to go with one but by the looks of the airport, I did. After withdrawing some money and haggling a price with the guy I rushed to an empty parking garage. Him and I talked about the state of Shanghai. Everything was more expensive now. Shanghai had a lot less people. Stores and Restaurants were shut down. The three years of lock down had not just hurt Shanghai, but all of China's big cities. Many folks went elsewhere to live or work, while a few stayed in the cities hoping for it to return to normal. A lot of the large foreign companies also pulled out of the big cities too. Crippling them even more.
Once the taxi arrived, I got in and had a quiet ride to Jing An district. As I looked out the car window, the tall apartment buildings stood out amongst the slightly dreary day. Thick white clouds hovered heavily over the haze covered city. The city certainly looked the same, but something did feel different. It wasn't until after we pulled off of the highway and into the main city streets did I notice a change. Many restaurants closed down or gutted. The amount of people walking around the city was definitely fewer, most wore masks while a few didn't. Even though the lock down's grip was slowly loosening on Shanghai's neck, it was still common for people to get Covid. When they got it, it was usually pretty severe.
Living in the City
With all of this, the normal interactions of the city felt the same. My girlfriend and I still wandered the streets freely. Going to restaurants and shops. Interacting with others. I think those that stayed in Shanghai truly loved the city. They carried with them the "Spirit of Shanghai". From the late night fried noodle chef, sweating in his small kitchen cooking up delicious meals for night owls to to the delivery men zipping around quickly on scooters, getting people their goods. There were still people here managing to make a life out of these undesirable conditions. Keeping the city alive.
There is probably some lesson to be learned from this. But for now, I will just continue to explore the city and leave the lesson to be interpreted by you readers.
Hope you have a good day!
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