Why I like Shanghai
I had only been in Shanghai for a few months when I was pushed onto the stage at a school concert to sing Ye Shang Hai, a song from the bad “good old days” of Shanghai. I was awful, and to this day I apologize to Zhou Xuan for murdering
her 1937 hit song. But learning about the song and getting a cheerful response
from the Chinese audience, despite
my incomprehensible accent, was a great introduction to this relentlessly robust
In 2004, when I arrived, there were still some reminders
of Zhou Xuan’s Shanghai. Many old laneways
and buildings remained. Street vendors were everywhere. And crowded Wujiang Road still sold the best Shanghai snacks in town. Little of that remains and, today, Zhou Xuan would feel as lost as I sometimes do.
Shanghai is now a cosmopolitan
city on a par with Paris, London and New York. In many ways it surpasses
those great cities. It is cleaner and more modern than any of them. From the daring architecture
of its gleaming new skyscrapers, to its state-of-the-art subway system, Shanghai ranks second to none.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is haipai: Shanghai style. The people are still open and friendly, eager to try new things and to enjoy life. The face of Shanghai may have changed, but the heart of Shanghai remains the same and that is why, after all these years, I still enjoy living here so much.