Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shanghai side street.

There is a Korean drama series about two court painters who were tasked by the young emperor to paint the everyday activities of commoners because the Emperor was not supposed to leave the palace and had to rely on what his officials fed him about life outside the palace. These two painters - a master painter and his disciple who was very talented went around the city observing and discussing what they had seen before drawing these scenes from their individual perspectives to inform the Emperor of what life was like amongst the common folks.

When I travel, I like to observe people as they are and to take photos of buildings or parts of them that I find fascinating. Actually, I would love to be like the two painters above, drawing instead of taking photographs. However, I do not have the luxury of time to paint like them and taking photos enable me to make observations and then studying my observations that were recorded by my camera. 

In my recent trip to Shanghai on a package tour, we were taken to Old Shanghai Street which was a tourist attraction with beautiful buildings re-created to look like they were from ancient times. They house shops and restaurants and drew visitors towards them like magnets. A few friends and I decided to wander in the opposite direction and found ourselves in a side street where there were few tourists and more of locals amongst the numerous food and tid-bit stalls. We chatted with the stall holders to find out more about what they were selling and if I were a court painter, I would have been able to come up with drawings that would please the Emperor no end. Reality was that I was just a visitor but my trusty Casio camera did a good job recording an interesting morning along a Shanghainese side street. 

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