China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

Dear Nanjing Municipality

Dear Nanjing Municipality,

Rumor is that you’re vying for some sort of award. China’s Best City or the Civilization Prize or Certificate of Glory or something. First of all, good luck. That isn’t a small pool of competitors to go against. But take this for what it’s worth – you’re strides ahead of Yichang. After all, your city improvements are not taking the form of complete civic overhaul. You have sidewalks – that alone must bring a higher ranking.

As for those improvements, we’ve noticed some of the changes that have been implemented this month. Here, in our neighborhood, where the old, brick-roofed, toss-the-garbage-in-the-street China collides head on with the concrete! skyward! way of the future, we can watch the process of pseudo-gentrification unfold in real-time. We can observe as troupes of Nanjing’s finest try to whip the streets into presentable shape by rounding up all those pesky tofu dealers and black market butchers. In some ways, we must be grateful – our sleep has improved since that incessant thwack of cleaver to plywood ceased.

Surely, sleep deprivation is not a concern of yours – if it were, you would most likely be focused on the euthanizing of stray cats, or enforcing a undisruptive code of conduct for outdoor pool halls. Being realistic, we recognize that what you are striving for is mainly just an image of orderliness and modernity. We won’t deny you that wish.

However, being foreigners, I suppose we have our own set of expectations and criteria with which we judge the quality of a city. Personally, a pull-down, metal door gains nothing from cleanliness. The tofu man does not offend us. We actually enjoy looking out our window over the short, tiled peaks that surround us. And while we understand you have a fine set of laws that you like to administer ever so consistently, we worry that by cracking down on every unlicensed chao mian fryer and bootleg DVD shop you are really doing little more than sucking the character right out of your city. A little dirt and back-alley bootlegging is healthy. These untidy cultural nuggets are the moss and fungi of the fertile forest of urbanity; without them, what would this city, or any Chinese city, be?

We will leave you with that last question to ponder.


This Ridiculous World

One Response to “Dear Nanjing Municipality”

  1. Scott says:

    Sums up my feelings exactly. And while I’m celebrating the disappearance of the stinky tofu stink, this city’s starting to feel more and more like boring, soulless Shanghai… The old Nanjing’s still around…you’ve just got to ride your bike a bit further from Xinjeikou.

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