Life in Shanghai…


Its not always I’m in a modern city that’s both one and old at the same time. I’m not talking about the infrastructure and all that, but more about the people and their quirkiness. Which was the reason I arm myself with rangefinder cameras while living here, with the quiet shutter and the old looking camera lets me get away from snapping photos of people on the street without them posing or changing their behaviours, like people usually do when you hold a SLR camera.


So, one weekend, I decided to load a roll of Lucky SHD100 (7.5RMB film) into my 1950s Nikon S2 rangefinder with only a 5cm f1.4 Nikkor S.C. lens and manual metering from Brian’s brain and go out and capture what I see on a single roll of film. Granted, most of the pictures here are overexposed by up to a stop or a little more, but Adobe Lightroom brought it all back to life. Lucky film is famous for not having a anti-halation layer, so some pictures do show glows when light in high contrast areas seem to seep into dark areas. Anyway, accidental exposures and so on gives nice pictures nonetheless…


Ok, those guys in the picture above are not policemen, but probably security guards. It seems quite normal that there are chairs all over and Shanghainese loves sitting around on the roadside, sometimes even ON the road itself, but I did not catch that this time around.  One thing I have not learnt up till now is to understand Shanghainese. But I’m guessing they’re talking about the stock market like everyone else.


The stock market is probably the main reason why there are so many rich people here in China nowadays. I’d like to think that Hong Kong is not a good place for shopping anymore because they spoilt the market, rightly or wrongly. You see Porsches and Ferraris all over the place in town, but still there are a big majority with bicycles and electric motorcycles.


And including some premium 3 wheeled scooters, such as this Advanced Human Transporter 2000 I found chained to a tree along the busy Huaihai Road. Check out the movable armrest! Ingenius design. Will beat the Segway anytime.


But at the end of the day, China is still a place with plenty of standard old bicycle, although I’m starting to see more and more electric ones. They don’t cost a lot, around 1000 RMB, and I think I should be getting one. The combination of medium speed and quietness on those electric variants make it, I think, quite dangerous especially you consider that Chinese like to walk on the road instead of the sidewalks.


Here’s a picture of a hangout for local taxi drivers. I always thought it was a meal place, but there seems to be a lot of them at any time of the day, so it could be a clubhouse for cab drivers as well. Not a good place to flag down a cab for sure as they’re all hungry when they pass that place.


And how can I write about Shanghai without a picture of the typical Shanghainese pastime? The art of walking around the street in your pyjamas. There were a lot more of them around when I was here in 2000, but this time around looks like most of them are migrating to moving around in pyjamas to nice big cars. Anyway, this guy was shot around noon, and I guess he could give the excuse he was sleep walking and SMSing at the same time, but nevertheless, caught on camera.


And the last picture here is a street seller. I think he’s roasting some nuts, but you should have seen him later on when some women wanted to buy something from him. Noooo… he did not even get up, just pointed around and talking in the same position he is in the picture… Love this place….


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