Dear Shanghai, I Love You

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Using the powerful presets and tools that come with VSCO X, we’ve put together a photo essay that showcases Shanghai through our eyes. This is Neocha’s tribute to a city that we keep falling in love with over and over again.

 

When most people think of Shanghai, certain sights might immediately come to mind: the lively crowds on the riverside promenade; the hyper-futuristic skyscrapers rising above the Lujiazui skyline; and a legion of mopeds, bicycles, and cars whizzing every which way through downtown. While these sights are representative of Shanghai in their own way, for many, the allure of the city lies in its internationalism, open-mindedness, and reputation as a place of endless opportunities. But beyond these obvious qualities, the city’s rich history and traditional roots form the Shanghai that we know and love.


我们通过VSCO X的滤镜及编辑工具,汇编了一系列照片,以呈现出Neocha心中最爱的上海。

 
 

从灯火通明的浦江两岸,到四通八达的公共交通,再到超未来主义的现代摩天大楼……这是无数人梦想中的上海:大气、国际化、充满机遇。但它决不仅仅如此。

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In our eyes, Shanghai is a petite and elegant city. Being the most populated city in China, some might find “petite” as an absurd adjective to describe the megalopolis. Even prior to Shanghai’s frenzied development, land was considered to be a treasured commodity. This is reflected in the Shanghai’s older streets, which look quite dainty when compared to the streets of other Chinese cities. Many of Shanghai’s older buildings are designed with a similar mindset of maximizing the most of a given space and are equally charming in their “petiteness,” such as the wedge-shaped Wukang Mansion in the French Concession. However, despite limitations, many of Shanghai’s older buildings were constructed with attention to details: Buildings from the Republic of China period best represent this, with Art Deco designs, ornate wood and stone carvings, and beautiful terrazzo flooring being some of the city’s most overlooked gems.


上海是“小”且“精”的。因为它从开埠以来就是寸土寸金之地,街道不宽、空间不大,一些老建筑甚至就见缝插针地矗立在两条逐渐相交的马路上,形成了独特的三角船型立面。坐落在法租界的“武康大楼”就是代表性建筑之一。虽然大部分老建筑的空间本身十分逼仄,但细节之处却是非常之精致。甚至在许多建于民国时期、Art Deco风格的建筑上,如今依旧可见细腻的砖雕木雕及整洁的水磨石地。

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However, the true essence of Shanghai can be best observed in the city’s shikumen lanes or longtangs, which are narrow alleyways that often can only fit two people shoulder to shoulder. Residental areas like these are abuzz with activity: Recyclers are busy at work, collecting and sorting out salvaged goods along the street; vendors lay out a selection of fresh produce and barter with passersby; and repurposed homes serve as convenience stores, hawking everyday essentials to nearby residents.

In these close-packed living quarters, the distinction between public and private is often blurred as neighbors are constantly exposed to each other’s lives. It might seem bothersome to know what your neighbors are arguing about or having for dinner, but for many locals, these living conditions have ultimately contributed to a strong sense of community.


传统的石库门里弄更是浓缩了上海风情,各排房子间仅留有一两人宽的过道,相当“闹忙”:维修和回收旧家电的师傅永远在忙活着;而小商贩沿街铺陈开时令蔬果叫卖;那些塞满杂物的烟纸店,就直接从民居一楼破墙开设。

而住在里弄间的邻里,关系几乎紧密到毫无隐私可言——一家人的饮食起居,几乎都可被对门的邻居一览无遗。但正因如此,弄堂中才洋溢着浓浓市井气。

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To this day, many of the older generation Shanghainese are content with a traditional lifestyle filled with simple pleasures. When the weather is fair, they can be seen hanging laundry out to dry on streets and from balconies; tending to their beloved potted plants; or simply being out and about, soaking up the sun, casually knitting, and chatting the afternoon away.


上海人对市井生活的讲究,也能从细节上看出来。在天气好的时候,家家户户的衣裤被褥一定要晾晒出来;老人家一定要把花草盆栽搬出来侍弄;而退休的阿姨妈妈们则会围坐一圈,织绒线、孵太阳、闲话家常……

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With much of the cityscape and local lifestyle still interwoven with traditions, it’s to be expected that the regional cuisine similarly follows suit. The four breakfast staples, dubbed as si da jin gang (or “Four Heavenly Kings” in English), is comprised of soy milk, Chinese fried churros, baked pancakes with sesame, and stuffed sticky rice rolls. Everything, with the exception of the fried churros, can be made sweet or savory. Another popular snack choice is Shanghai-style tea eggs, which are made with aniseed, sugar, cinnamon, soy sauce, and of course, tea leaves. For dessert, steamed rice cake, garnished with strips of sugar-soaked papaya and orange peels, is a popular with locals. While many of these culinary delights have been glorified under the pen of legendary author Eileen Chang, some have become increasingly harder to find. As the city marches towards the future, a collective nostalgia battles on against the unforgiving nature of time to keep these Shanghainese flavors and memories alive.


哪怕是在上海马路街角卖小吃的摊贩,做得也精细。早点“四大金刚”:豆浆、油条、大饼、粢饭,搭配的口味一定有甜有咸,缺一不可;蒸糕上要撒些青红丝;茶叶蛋里则一定要放桂皮茴香……这些吃食亦在民国作家张爱玲笔下写过,现在仍有得找。一晃几十载春秋过去,只有这味道像是从旧时弥漫而来,尚还驻留在车水马龙之间,未曾消散。

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Contributor: Chen Yuan
Photographers: Crown WangChan QuLi ZiAdam J. SchokoraDavid Yen


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供稿人: Chen Yuan
摄影师: Crown WangChan QuLi ZiAdam J. SchokoraDavid Yen