It has been a couple of quiet months for me and the City. Frankly, I have not spoken to her much after the disaster that has befallen us all. At the end of the summer the hidden enemy struck, one that had been lurking around the corner for years now, waiting to find her weakened and prone to his poison. His name is progress. He had been nibbling on the City for years now, sometimes accidentally doing more good than bad, but this year his appetite was insatiable. Over night, the Night Market that has bathed the whole Shanxi Rd all the way up to the Red Gate in its crimson light vanished. The fragrance of thousand dishes, luoguos, BBQs, sticks-with-everything, chicken brains, fried noodles, pork chops, dogs meat, stinky tofu, red pepper sauce, numbing pepper, shrimps and clams... all of this was gone in an instant. And this wasn’t enough: at the same time, on the other side of the river, the legendary Blue Clouds Rd, a staple of the City’s seafood and BBQ fish culture was torn to pieces.
Even now, as I’m writing these words I can’t stop the striking pain I feel as I remember the last day I saw that street open. This is when the cover photo was taken, the last day of "BBQ on Xinggguanlu" as we all came to know it. Every day I waited for this nightmare to stop and everything to come back to normal, but it has just become the brutal reality we all have to live in now. In truth, a lot of street food is back in all parts of town now, and on the neighbouring streets. If it wasn’t for the absence of the Shanxi Rd. Night Market you probably wouldn’t even notice any change. Yet, it has all changed, irreversibly. During that time the City was not beyond the veil of time and got the part of its spirit torn away. I felt that whatever I would have written these past few months would make no sense and would convey no meaning. I had no heart to even try.
Now, however, it seems fitting to say that I have mourned long enough, and as our wounds heal so will the scars on the face of the City. She is strong, proud and beautiful, and I hope she will never lose her spirit. In the New Year to come, that’s something I would like to wish to all of my Dear Readers, who can hopefully forgive me for my prolonged silence. I can promise many more adventures and marvels, as we all start again with a renewed strength and and courage in these next 365 days to come.
Happy New Year 2021 everyone, love you all,
PS: Among all those troubles, there was a ray of light that has finally pushed me to stop sulking about this world getting all civilised, nice and clean and coming to an end. The BBQ Lady has come back to her usual spot near the Great Southern Gate. I want to eat at hers again soon, like I had when I visited the City for the first time ever. I feel it would correspond with the notion of Rebirth and Revival that the New Year brings. So if you’re curious what’s so special about this BBQ in particular, stay tuned.