Image by Rik Sferra
Last night, I watched the film City of God, absolutely stunning, I like the mind twisting way of story-telling, the cinematography and really everything about this film. Most of all, I get emotionally attached to the film's subject matter tremendously, not the gangster part, but the life style of the slums.
I know I really am getting old, because I start to think about the past. Not many of my American friends knew that I was born and grew up in one of the largest slum in Shanghai. In Chinese, Slum is called "Peng Hu Qu", it literally means "Cote & Shed District"in Chinese. For the first 19 years of my life, until some developer had spotted our land, I have lived in a slum in Yang Pu District, near the infamous Su Zhou River. The slum was dark, colorless, smelly, no tree, no animals, just sheds one connected to another. I have rarely seen strangers coming into the slum, if I see one, he is probably lost in the maze and desperately needs to get out.
Four generations of my father's family had lived in the same house. The house I grew up was actually considered one of the best houses in the whole slum, a small two-story brick house with a separate fenced yard and a shared courtyard with five other families and a well which is one of my favorite things at the time. Unlike the kids in City of God or Born into the Brothels, my childhood in the slum was quite pleasant. I had a lot of friends, it was very safe and we invented games to play.
In the summer of 1997, When we first got notice that the section we had lived was in the new developing zone, everyone was so excited to be able to finally move out of the slum. Sadly, no one, has even had a slice of thought of taking a picture of the place. Everyday, I saw families drove their furnitures out of the slum and they don't even look back. One week after the last person moved out, the slum Lane 390, the size of two Time Square, was flattened. Since then, I have never gone back to see the old neighborhood, but from the recent Google Satellite map, I discovered little has been changed in the area since 10 years ago while most of Shanghai boomed with skyscrapers like the speedy growing of bamboo shots.
Well, I hope you enjoy this little bit of personal history of mine. I am extremely regretted that there is nothing has recorded of my childhood and teenage-hood in the slum. This is just maybe why having a camera now and have it with me at all time become so important to me.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Image by Rik Sferra