Yanqing Lu is one of my most favourite streets in Shanghai, a dog-legged lane lined with a beautiful green arcade of plane trees, and always full of life and activity. It’s not really on the way to anywhere, and it doesn’t join any two important places together, so it gets very little traffic except for locals going to and from the wet market, and kids coming home from school. I walk along it most days, just enjoying the sights and sounds.
A man whizzes past on his scooter with three ornate square wooden birdcages on the back, protected by embroidered blue covers, and turns into his lane way. He will have been taking them for a sing and some air in the park, along with all the other bird enthusiasts. Outside the wetmarket a husband and wife team are bird enthusiasts of an altogether different kind, slaughtering chickens and pigeons to order from the cages strapped to their bicycle. A pile of wet bloody feathers gathers next to them in the gutter.
But mostly it’s life as usual, just like any other city in the world – mothers walking babies in prams, grandfathers walking dogs and talking on their mobile phones, and young guys trying to look cool in front of their friends.