The Streets of Shanghai
A bell rings twice and a bike goes by. Even the cement buildings and brown fields look lovely in the yellow, rosy warm glow of the setting sun. The heavy smog settles over Shanghai like my cap pulling close around my head. This coat feels like a quilt, bound tight around my waist and tacked across my chest and hips, holding in the last whispers of warmth from buildings. I breathe in and icy air bites at my nostrils. Breathe out - is that loneliness on my breath? Or is it just the aftertaste of dim sum and green tea? Breathe out steam like the curls of smoke from dragons carved in bamboo at the souvenir stands. Hot air rushes out, steeped in quiet reverence for this ancient, tired and cold country. A country under construction; having put down their swords and gunpowder and thrown themselves into the global markets, industry and services in a struggle to regain their greatness. Fighting in the name of a civilization that no longer exists as it once did, uncertain of allies and enemies as internet games, McDonalds and Microsoft offer tools that lead to both success and self-destruction. The road bends here and the KFC logo, followed by Chinese characters above a smiling Santa face, becomes visible. I curl my fingers into fists inside my mittens and rub them together for warmth. A bell rings twice and a bike goes by.