…you can see forever!
Actually, a better title might be “Here today, gone tomorrow!” Which may or may not represent my own stint in China, though it turns out that I’ll be here for at least another eight months.
What I’m actually alluding to is the phenomenon of perceived, rapid and sudden change that is so common to the landscape of China. Something familiar may up and disappear in the space of a day1 or, in the case of Jinyin St. (金银街), several weeks. Since the sudden start of construction about two weeks ago, Jinyin St. has been completely ripped up and redecorated. The buildings across from the Nanjing University Xiyuan Hotel have had a literal face-lift and faux, European-esque awning is in the process of going up as I write. Then there’s the street itself. Apparently, City Planning2 has decided to change the area into a pedestrian street…a Little Europe/America/vaguely-Western-ish Street if you will. Good-bye, blacktop. Hello, tiny cubes of uneven granite.
The street will no doubt be gorgeous once work is complete. And while I am skeptical about the lifespan of the eye-catching brick wallpaper, I will appreciate the awning on rainy Nanjing days. I also concede that the entire project is very clever and gives the city a dressed-up, foreigner enclave with a preexisting population. A preexisting population that is more than willing to frequent a henceforth, not-dusty, not-dingy social space a stone’s throw from their dormitory.
Certainly, with the amount of work being done (which actually also includes much repaving of the area around the cluster of school buildings next to the HNC) plans must have been in the works for a lengthy period of time. We only perceive the decision to rebuild as sudden since we had absolutely no notice. The moral of the story: Don’t blink. You’ll miss a whole lot in China.