Going, going, gone. Disappearing houses, vanishing markets, demolished neighbourhoods. Like the entire city block in Hongkou I wrote about in my last post, about to be razed to make way for a new development whether the residents like it or not, the adjacent wet market and all its vendors is going the same way in a few short weeks. It’s a really great wet market too, as you can see from these photos, full of life, friendly faces and happy banter.
And the chicken seller, neatly and elegantly dressed, has lined up her chickens for sale. They look kind of awkward, pointing their toes like that. Even in supermarkets, this is how you’ll find your chickens, heads down, legs up, skinny and naked. Because they are hung upside down by the feet to be dispatched – with a neat and quick snip to the big blood vessels in the neck – they tend to just set that way. I guess you’ll be needing those feet and the head too.
A man on a bicycle is following me around the narrow aisles, intrigued at what catches my eye. I explain that we don’t have bullfrogs in Australia (well…we do, but we don’t sell them by the half-kilo and eat them) and he is quietly incredulous.
The fish seller, replenishing the water in her polystyrene tanks, has just laid two large solid blocks of frozen fish in the nearby gutter to thaw. Everyone just steps over them.
Nearby, huge stinky durian, wrapped with a raffia twine ‘handle’ to make them easy to carry. They’re in season right now and the slightly rotten odour drifts through the market.
The noodle seller is pretty busy with her lunch, calling someone on her phone, and selling a few noodles in between the other, more important, tasks. In the meantime, her competition next door are selling up a storm.
The meat man chops a little, tells some jokes, smokes a lot, and counts his dough.
A very shy smile, but this lady, the cockle seller, was frying up her lunch in a wok at the back of her stall when I asked for a photo. It smelled great! Lots of garlic, lots of greens, lots of chili.
And another beautiful smile, on the girl cooking and selling fried dumplings at the entrance to the market.
I love this picture. The lady in the centre looks harsh and unhappy, but I just caught her off-guard. Straight after, she hit me with a huge smile and went on her way.
So there it is, the very human face of a massive urban dislocation. What do you think about the individuals caught in the middle of it?