ERASURE

[Archived: June 2015]

The endless and frenetic construction in Shanghai fascinates me. The urban landscape is constantly changing: a field becomes a high rise; a neighborhood is flattened into a parking lot. 

A family friend once took me to a Starbucks on Middle Huaihai road. It was near a shopping mall with winding white escalators and a mother-of-pearl finish. Just a few years ago, the same spot was a well-known 'fake market' where you could buy imitation Coach bags and luxury watches. After it was torn down, the mall was built over its remains: Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana - the real deal.

"This used to be my house," Peter said, gesturing around the coffee shop interior. Couples were seated around us, sipping frappuccinos and staring at their phones. He turned to my grandmother. "Remember when large houses were split into tiny rooms? During the Cultural Revolution?" She nodded. "This used to be my home," he repeated. "I grew up here." We lingered, trying to imagine how it used to be.