Having been inside all day yesterday, I needed to go and play outside. Wuxi is a new city, but much of the old still remains and isn’t hidden, as it often is elsewhere, behind all the new buildings. But today’s foray into old Wuxi led me to a world that’s marked for 拆. While Baoli is all very pretty from the front, the old city is being demolished behind it while in the adjacent alleyway, a ubiquitous worker dismantles old doors.
The nearby streets are still inhabited for the most part, but some buildings have already been gutted. I assume that the archway in the second picture below would have been an entrance, the door and the windows being a more recent addition. Above the arch of the gateway, the name has been chiselled off, although that seems to be some recent “vandalism” since the characters don’t seem to have had time to be worn by the weather.
Meanwhile, Mr Man, in his slightly short trousers, heads home. Will he get there before the wrecking ball does? Of course, his neighbour’s house, now merely a temporary shadow against the adjacent wall until that, too, becomes rubble in 拆国, is the future of Mr Man’s cosy domicile. Of course, he’s probably quite keen to live on the 21st floor where he can wax nostalgic about life in the slums and the balmy days of hot-and-cold-running vermin.
Meanwhile, some places are likely to survive such as this antique chemist’s shop near 南禅. Just as I reached the intersection, some fire engines came screaming out of the exit on the opposite side of the road, their sirens blaring probably because that’s what American fire engines do in the movies. All the wailing in the world has little effect on the motoring public for whom sirens are yet another noise to be ignored rather than an alarum inviting respectful avoidance so that the emergency services can go about their business unimpeded. And for those who do notice, they can always go for a quiet walk beside the unused canal.
Wuxi does have history, but it’s rapidly disappearing beneath the modern world, and in the absence of much real local history, it’s being manufactured. The park on the other side of the bridge outside progresses apace, but whether there ever was a pavilion there in the past, I don’t know and am inclined to doubt. Give it five years of neglect and it’ll look like a relic from the Tang Dynasty.