Today, while crossing the Puji bridge, I saw a heron flying over the Suzhou Creek. Nearby, a field of wild grass and scrub was quietly taking over a deserted lot. No one had touched the land in months - kind of a miracle in a city that erected 200 skyscrapers in one year.
The field was surrounded by crumbling cinder block walls. Someone had painted a warning by the entrance where the blocks were tumbling down:
Evil is stirring; it is on the move. It is organizing.
Graffiti is rare in Shanghai. And ephemeral. Unless it's part of an official graffiti wall, like M50's 'Great Wall of Graffiti', graffiti typically disappears overnight, scrubbed into oblivion.
A friend once described Shanghai as 中国的客厅 or China's living room. "That's where you bring your guests," he explained. "It's clean, it's tidy. It's what you show other people." This explains Shanghai's enormous force of street sweepers, who roam the city block by block. Littering doesn't matter because everyone knows there are people dedicated to making trash disappear. The same goes for graffiti.
I snapped a photo of Evil is stirring. The message sounded a little too doomsday - especially on a bright afternoon, under a deep, blue sky - but the serendipity of finding graffiti compelled me to preserve it. By tomorrow morning, I know it'll be gone.