It was me and this man.Man : You are not from around here, are you?
Me : Yep. Have you heard of Indonesia before?
Man : *nodding* My sister in law went to Bali last winter. It was beautiful place, she said.
Me : *smiling* Alright.
Man : So, what do you think of Shanghai?
Me : Haven’t seen much. I arrived here just yesterday. Will be staying only for another 1-2 weeks.
Man : Go to “The Bund”.
Me : The Bund, huh? .
A small greeting to a complete stranger lead to almost an hour of light yet interesting conversation. It turns out that this Chinese man who was born in a small village, northern part of China, has been living in Shanghai since he was 19 years old. Anyway, he did know about my short visit and the limited time I have for wandering around, also my limited choice of transportation; then he gave me a short explanation about where should I be visiting in Shanghai, what kind of food I must try, and what kind of things I can expect from Shanghai.
Sooo… The Bund. That place became everyone-I-asked’s recommendation. So I think it worth a visit. well.. more likely I was pretty excited to go there haha It was a sunny day when I had a chance to visit this place. The Bund was a tourism place so there is a subway station that located near it and on a walking distance. You can take either Metro Line no 1, 2 & 8 at People Square’s or Metro Line no 2 & 10 at East Nanjing Road, depend on your location to start with. Don’t worry about get lost in the MRT because take the wrong line or get on to the wrong side of subway. I’ve done it before and believe me, it’s not that scary/bad. And as long as you have a subway map, you gonna be okay 😛
The Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road Yi Lu (East Zhongshan 1st Road), is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years, showing both old and new Shanghai. It starts from the Baidu Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the East Jinling Road and winds a 1500 meters (less than one mile) length. Walking along the Bund, which is at the west shore of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen on the opposite side and also the Jin Mao Tower.
Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, the Bund is a really beautiful and special place which is worth visiting. The newly-built Flood Control Bank takes the function of preventing the oversize flood; the square with the statue of Marshal Chen Yi is an open air podium which gives new views of the Shanghai Plaza Culture; the Cenotaph which stands on the man-made island is a monument of people’s heroes; the riverside greenbelt, the Electronic Waterfall Bell, and the Great Mural Carving are all representatives of the Bund.
The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance. The Bund was the centre of Shanghai’s politics, economy and culture hundreds of years ago, consulates of most countries and many banks, businesses and newspaper offices were settled there, and that’s why Shanghai have these art-like buildings. Although they were not designed by the same person or built in the same period, the architectural pattern is similar. (Find more about each building descriptions in here and about its history, read it here)
Anyway, when I said that it was a sunny day, what I really mean is that it was the most sunny day I had back in Shanghai. Shanghai’s sky was not ever clear enough to allow me to see the sun. And I think it still is. Indeed, it was a busy day after all. By the time I reached my destination, it was already a lot of people there. They were tourists with their cameras and their tour guide, local people who seems to enjoy the view, some groups of young people who having chat with their friends, and etc. Needless to say, The Bund is not just a tourist’s attraction but it also a famous public space in where a lot of people – including the citizen – love to spend time on.
Being the usual me, again I found myself talking to a stranger. Not a Chinese stranger, because he has Pakistan or Arabic face, well…kind of. And an Arab’s name as in Abdul Hakim. We soon fall deep into the conversation, even though it was kind of weird how we can understand what each other intend to say. Let me explain it this way… His mother language was neither English nor Chinese. He was born to speak with something that sounds like Arabic language. I know that because in the middle of our conversation, he excused himself to answer his ringing cell phone and seems fluent of speaking in a rapid (perhaps) Arabic. I learned that language once back in my elementary school’s year, but already forget it ever since I graduated.
We both tried to held most of the conversation in English, yet from the description above, he understand much less English than my understanding in Arabic. Yep, imagine it that way haha . However, we managed to talk about many things, for almost two hours which is amazing. Mostly he spoke of his family and his life in Shanghai. I must be a good listener to him that he freely spoke his personal problem also about his brother’s shocking condition. He talk about bad side of Chinese government and polices. About their attitude to the people of his kind. Also about how pricey they made him paid to them as he don’t want any harm come to his family.
No, I won’t give the detail here as he prefer to keep low profile, or let just say…anonymous (yep, I told him about the possibility of me writing it on a public website – or in this case was my blog). To sum it up, I might know what you probably be thinking after reading this. I found myself saying that it was one awful story. In that very moment, even I don’t see if there is any cell in my body that willing to live in this city anymore. But then again, he told me this..“You know what, D? If only the situation was different and my brother was not in this kind of position, I don’t think I want to leave this place. I’ve been here since I was much younger and it was killing me inside that I would not be able to come back here again once I was in the plane heading back to my own country. I always love to spend the afternoon on a coffee shop in the French Concession near my place. Yeah.. it would be a perfect place to grow old. Haha now it sounds like a silly dream, right? I fell in comfort with this place in where I grown up yet they kicked me out of this country because of “those” matter. Money is not a problem for me, you know. If only they let me pay for these.. If only money can solve all this mess.. “ (He had this dreamy look in his eyes while speaking it and I can’t stop myself to feel sorry for him) .
Overall, I was grateful to ever met and talked to him. Of course I didn’t absorb everything he said, as I always believe one’ story is their own opinions which is formed from their own point of view, unless I heard most people told me the same thing or I experience it first-handed then I perhaps believe it. But still, it nice to be aware of such thing in order to avoid it happen at any cost in the future.
Well, this event ended by him be a more cheerful version, even though not so cheerful one, but still.. He looks more relaxed which is a good thing. And guess what? I got an offer to join the dinner with him, his sister and his sister-in-law on a famous Pakistanis restaurant, not so far away. A tempting offer considering I was famished, but due to the lack of safe transportation I can rely on, I turn down the offer as polite as I can. A few minutes later, I said goodbye. We exchanged email address and separated our way. Honestly, I don’t know though, but I had this feeling that I will not have the chance to meet him again. But who am I to say such thing? haha May Allah bless him and his family, always.