Hej, jag är här nu!

Beijing är ett avslutat kapitel sedan November 2018. Det tog ca 6 månader att landa mentalt i nya existensen där jag inte är längre kände att jag hela tiden var påväg nånstans. I den nya vardagen kunde jag sitta på mitt arsle dag in och dag ut, utan den där känslan av att “snart kommer någon/snart händer något / undra om..??”

Nu fanns det ingen ingen någon som skulle kunna poppa upp när som helst o behöva något slags dokument, intyg, uppvisning av pass, kontrakt eller certifikat. Hotet om att bli vräkt för att vi hyrde illegalt var över.

Det var lite överväldigande faktiskt och fullkomligt absurt, att plötsligt vara fri från yttre stress. Plötsligt så fri. Insåg med tiden hur tight jag hade blivit i kroppen. Man fattar inte alltid hur högt upp i halsen man tryckt sina axlar förrän man andas ut ordentligt. Ibland vaknade jag mitt i natten från mardrömmar där jag upprepade mantrat för mig själv “Bara ett flyg kvar, bara ett flyg kvar”. Stressen av att planera hemflytten hade suttit i så länge, att det tog lång tid att komma ur den. Den satt så fysiskt. I den återkommande mardrömmen återspelades olika varianter av sista dagarna i Beijing. Oron av att behöva flyga 9 timmar med en hund vars ras inte är tillåten flyga mer än 6.5. Oron över att allt jag skickar hem därifrån försvinner. Sorgen att skiljas från våran ayi.

I Sverige fick jag svindel första halvåret av att föreställa mig vara i Beijing igen. Det var så många bollar i luften sista tiden. Mådde illa av tanken att åka tillbaka. Nu börjar jag faktiskt längta dit lite igen. Det var så mycket som kunde gå fel då. Så mycket man bara ville kunna sluta tänka på. Utmattad av hundra olika “tänk om x händer?” scenarier.

I juni flög vi dem två hundarna för att få det största momentet i hemflytten avklarat. Dem var törstiga men fullt i liv när vi kom fram. Huset hade vi, men sov bara två nätter. Kändes mer som en semester i något hyrt än vårat eget. Tre månader senare hade vi löst allt annat och kom efter. Med 15 dagar kvar till min mans 30 års dag sov vi första natten utan måsten på att någonstans. Det var helt otroligt. Huset saknade ovettiga sängar, var konstigt tomt och luktade gammal stuga, men kändes så himla tryggt. Kartonger och påsar med våra ägodelar från Kina och från vårat liv tillsammans innan Kina prydde golvet i ett av rummen. Nu var vi där, i ett hus som är vårt. Ett hus som ingen nånsin kan slänger ut oss ifrån. Ett fantastiskt torpigt sekelskiftes hus i trä. Naturligt ventilerat, snett och underbart. Det är som en rymlig stuga med många skarvar och otippade höjdskillnader. Övervåningen har alldeles för lågt till tag. Men VI VAR ÄNTLIGEN HEMMA!!!

Inga fler väskor eller kartonger att packa. Inga fler lägenhetsbyten eller flygplan. Aldrig nånsin tänker jag sätta mig på ett flygplan igen. Dem dagarna är över. Att gunga in i Svenska rytmen och få in tillräckligt med köttbullar o lingonsås i munnen tog ungefär ett halv år. Men sen var både kropp o själ i ro nog att fullt kunna konceptualisera att vi verkligen var hemma igen. Mardrömmarna och svindeln var över. Nu var vi här, på riktigt.

SOMMAR 2020

Dagens läge är rätt najs faktiskt. Hundarna stormtrivs, men känner sig väl lite utkonkurrerade nu när familjen fått ett tillskott. En liten super söt dotter på 5 månader förgyller vardagen numera. Oj vad hon växer! Och fyfan vad gullig hon är.

Jag håller på att lära mig sy och måla med oljefärg, samtidigt som jag börjar ta produkt och fashion bilder hemma uppe i det tänkta sovrummet med det alldeles för låga taket. Joakim drar fram vad som finns under all kvickrot i trädgården och skapar linjer ute i kaoset. Inomhus bubblar hans viner och fermenteringar. Huset doftar av fläder!!

Det blir bra det här.

Tja!

Zero Waste seminar with Bea Johnson

At my one and only Pop Up Photo Studio I met Carrie, the founder of The Bulk House. This was a Rumble in the Jumble event hosted at Modernista on Bao Chao Hutong. They do it every month so just look it up! Selling original vintage goods, new handmade soaps, jewelry, second hand clothes.. A bunch of great stuff there.

Since she was the girlfriend of Joe the bassist in Disaster Chat, a band I interviewed for an article that I never wrote a few years ago, I paid extra attention to her table. Maybe otherwise I would have just walked by since I was tired and just wanted out for a smoke. But thank god I did not, because this gyal produces stuff that can replace hundreds of single use ones. She is so young but still have full understanding of what Ghandi meant by being the change we wish to see. High five! We can not just tell people what to stop doing without offering any alternatives.

5.5 years ago I bought a bag of 100 thick plastic straws and am still reusing the last 2 that I have left. Year by yhear I used fewer and fewer. Glad to have something to replace them with whence their done. Stainless steel ones from The Bulk House! Wohoo!

I offered to support her by giving her product pictures for free, but she exchanged that for a free coverage of the Zero Waste event she flew in Bea Johnson for. Even better!

Zero Waste seminar 2017, December 21.
At DayDayUp, a coworking space in Soho C, Sanlitun, Beijing.

 

 

 

A few things to know before having your picture taken


Here is candid moment portrait of my friend Kyle, actually taken the first time we ever met. In Beijing the second hand market is basically non existing, because the Chinese in general now wants everything new. Which is completely understandable due to their history. Fashion and shopping is not a new concept to us as it for them, so ofc there is a craze now. Buying someone elses old things is simply not desirable at all, especially since new stuff is so cheap anyway. And it seems people are looking for pretty things, not high quality things. In the west we are more and more growing tired of buying things that we need to replace, but we have been doing it for so long already – here they haven’t quite reached that point yet. So foreigners are arranging SWAP MEETS, and that’s how I met this guy. Melissa of Juice by Melissa hosted one, with cocktails, and this guy was sitting outside with his best buddy Damo drinking. Of all the people there, I felt the two of them were where the party was at. And I was right. Sat down with a drink, and then the three of us left pretty soon together and hung out all day and most of the evening too.

Kyle is very photo genic, not because of how handsome he is, but because of his emotions. Kyle is not to deceive anyone, ever to pretend. It is like self consciousness does not exist within him. In all pictures I have taken of him, his open mind and open heart comes through. He never asks him self what face he should make, or how he should keep his shoulders when I am taking a picture of him, he is just engaging with me. This is what I urge people to do. Breath. Just be. Keep yourself, or make yourself comfortable – and the chill vibe you’re trying to force will come naturally. Allow it to be quite between pictures. Allow the pictures to happen and don’t get intimidated by the the big clunky piece of gear called a camera. Stay within yourself. Close your eyes for two whole minutes and just count second for every in and exhale. Do whatever you need to do, to bring yourself back in as soon as consciousness or silly worry has taken you over. In all pictures you, the successful ones, you need to feel like yourself. There are moments in life, where you are your absolute most truest self. What is that moment for you?

I like keeping my body busy with very manual labor, while focusing my head on something creative so mine is when I am singing while doing house hold chores or painting. That is the absolute best place for me to be at, which is why I enjoy having the house to myself pretty often.

Think about what is yours, and see if it is possible to recreate that for real, or as an idea, for your shoot. Atleast I am the kind of photographer who would do everything I can to recreate that environment for you. If your photographer isnt willing to work with you like that, you can do it in your own head by taking yourself there. Visualize.

Other than that, I have found some people on youtube helping prepare people more systematically for a photoshoot. So, these might help too.

To start

Nathan and I were listening and watching to the group of musicians on the stage. He spotted the bassist and just went “I want to play with her”. And then he did. For him, it is just natural to go after what he finds interest in. He just goes. Grabs it. Which is why he playing everywhere with everyone all the time. We could all use being a bit more like him.

 

This night, was amazing. The gal worrying mostly about what to wear when walking in to 4C every Thursday, wanting to just be around real musicians, my 24 year old me. Would give me a big hug and a high five. Why? Because my outfit has turned to more like a uniform, and I am last night I was art of creating the fun from nothing.

Before ever entering anything anywhere, you gotta know your room. Always nr 1, listen first. Feel the vibe. Literally, feel the vibe. All (new?) situations in life involving other people, are like sitting down at a table where people are already engaged in a conversation. Would you sit down and start telling about your day without having no idea what they are talking about? NO! Unless you’re a dick. You enter quietly. You listen. You teach yourself what is going on, before you start adding to it. Or changing it. This out of no bigger reason than decency. Simple decency.

If sitting down by the table is hella scary, remind yourself, that if you belong just like everyone else. You are not that much worse than anybody else. You might even do a good thing, if you aim at adding rather than changing.

At 4C they were all inspiring, aspiring, writers, musicians, singers. What brought them together, what made those evening possible, was the fact that they were all doers. Bringing my camera made me a doer too. It got me in. And it was well done, because it has made me some money at the end and made a me loads of friends, brought me wonderful experiences and people. However, all I actually and really wanted was to have someone, Tavey, teach me how to not be such a nervous wreck so that I could join the fun. Someone to just come and say “I know you’re hiding something amazing. Something that your shyness is’nt letting you bring out to the world. Something so new, so refreshing and just so amazing that the world needs it. You’re talents are too important to be hidden away, so Im gonna help you. By next year, you’ll be as comfortable on this very stage as you are on your on toilet at home”

Now listen up ya’ll! The world aint werkin like dat.
If you want one thing, do not get comfortable doing another.

Because as soon as you do, that place is where people around you will perceive you comfortable. All of a sudden, that is who you are. I became the photographer, not the girl trying my stuff out at the Open Mic. Then it is a big shift that needs to be made, rather then just slipping into something new while at a new place. Environmental changes are great for these shifts. When I was still new there I should have just gone and do it, but at the same time. No. I was not ready. I loved to just listen. Feel the atmosphere. The energy. I loved falling in love with the place, with everyone. Being around people singing and jamming together became like a drug. It filled my soul and it still does.

I have been singing and writing songs on my own, sometimes with my best friend Matilda, for 7 tears now. 7 years… I dare to say I have found my voice. I dare to say, my songs are good. All that is missing, is a band.

Doesn’t matter what your dream is, if you are doing something completely different because you are scared of what might happen if you give it a shot. At this point, I had basically made a decision that the dream of joining the fun does not get a chance to flourish. Basically, I had killed its pulse by getting comfortable not doing it. By bringing my camera instead of bringing my book of songs I’ve written. It was my job to keep the dream alive, not give it valium. Keep its pulse strong! My other job was to show other people where the pulse is. That there is a certain fire withing me, not in hot flames, but glowing. If people are not aware of those glowing pieces of creativity within you, who in their right mind would try to help you away from where you are already doing? Especially, if that it what you have made your identity? That would be mad. So its up to you, to inform them. Its up to you, to make it happen.

Keeping it alive at home is ofc a way to keep its pulse strong. To maintain the glow. Not even doing that, will cost you a lot. So always at least believe in yourself when you’re alone, if you cant when with others. Now I have reached a point where this glow needs to become fire. I want the flames to go high, so that I can dance naked behind them and still be invisible to people. That is how much fire I have. I cant imagine how my soul will feel when I am jamming with musicians playing to my words. Aaaah euphoria.

What if my 24 year old me would have seen the 28 year old me sitting there yesterday singing with 2 strangers and a the manager of Hot Cat, drumming with my Chinese fan on the table, the Bai Jiu bottle and my lap – not being scared. Just having fun. Just enjoying. Trusting the others to take me seriously, just like I did them. Grateful to be a part of it, not even thinking about wether I belong or not. If I am good enough or not. Realizing today, the morning after, that I didn’t even get the traditional “I have dared to sing when people can hear me stomache ache”, which usually lasts for about 40 very intense minutes. But nothing. Nope. Zero. Nada. Why?… Because I just allowed myself to enjoy. None of it was a performance where result mattered.

That turned out to be the key for the out coming, for the soft opening of sharing my voice in social situations without it being agony or something that needs “powering through”. Taking the pressure off and focusing on why I was doing it, was key. Joy! Doing it for the same reason there as I do at home. Because it makes me happy! Because it comes naturally! Because I love doing it. When I didn’t have anything to bring to our circle beyond the tapping of my fan, I meditated on how happy I was to be there. How beautiful this moment was, and I even dared to close my eyes and just listen. Tap and listen. On my gratitude that I had been invited to play. Invited to this idea “That hey, lets make some music right here, right now”. All I had done to be counted in on that, was admitted that I sing and write on my own. That joy in my heart I got from them giving me room, also made the singing come easily. It came from my heart and I was more than happy to share.

There was this lovely girl from France, Felia, who is a major Erykah Baidu fan and I could’nt believe how lucky I was that she was there. I love people who sing like that. Its so weird, and so amazing. Its so free. So not square. Such an outburst of a feeling one cant explain with words, because human has not come up ith them yet. But with this singing of sounds, you can feel it. The whole thing was magical.

Give room to those silly outbursts of joy, whatever they are.
Joy will make you bigger and bigger, while lighter and lighter. Give Joy room, not Fear.

Follow your joy goddammit.

And be nice to people.

 

INSOMNIUM at Yu Gong Yi Shan

A late brunch at Schiller’s is always a good idea. Especially with your most vulgar buddy who loves drinking, smoking, cursing and trashing people. Through him, I get to release my eccentricity and it’s amazing. When with him we are fabulous in a world not good enough for either of us. A diva duo giving zero fucks escaping into a fairytale where I am not the queen, but where to I always make sure to bring one.

Its like I enter a different mind space when with him. Because I am not an arrogant son of bitch usually, but with him, I am absolutely obnoxious, but not rude. Still to the point I know I’d wish to slap myself if I’d walk by myself. But that’s ok… because I am many things. All of my mind spaces has to respect and give room for the others, no matter how contradictive they are.

We met up at Schillers for late brunch. 2 Qing Dao drafts and a 90 kuai awesome snack plate later, we headed over to ADAM’S. Adam’s is a gaybar run by a guy named Mondo, who has hired Hathor a.k.a Heather to be the hostess. Mondo is a bitch diva for sure, teaching the other ladies Beyonce moves and how to properly put on the whole doll face in make up. ADAM’S, I believe, has been created for his personal use. The club is his playground. Men come and men go, and no night is ever slow! Each event he has planned has full attendance and a hot n’ sweaty dance floor where the the guests and employees are all having a great time. Never have I seen before a bar with staff enjoying themselves they way they do here. On our way through Sanlitun we got photographed by a middle aged man with a lens mostly used by bird watchers out in deep forests. But hey, those are great for bored men with expensive cameras hanging out by shopping malls as well.

I do wonder what they do with those pictures…

3 Pinacoladas later we headed towards my hutong to go see mom. I was supposed to be joining her for a Metal event tonight and I was running late. We got on the bus for a few stations until we realized that SHIT! We wanted a beer and a smoke. So we got off as soon as we spotted one of those Alcohol and Tobacco stores. Then there we sat, drumming on an old empty cardboard box that once used to store beer, with Zhong Nan Hai smokes and Yan Jing Beer in hand. This is when we finally started working on our own version of Androgynous. Such a lovely tune. We gathered a small crowd who were all very discretely listening and filming with their phones, but pretending they weren’t listening.

Eventually we stumbled in at home just in time. We walked her to the venue, walked back home to walk the dogs, then Finn got tired as hell and went home. Shit, I was hella drunk and tired now too but I had stuff to do. So as anybody would do, I had a drunken 20 minute spread eagle nap on my living room floor, before I patted my face with some powder, put on some red lipstick, drew my liner perfectly, combed my hair and took off. Ran back to grab my camera and my fifty. Then I spent 20 minutes drinking my fifth beer of the day on a high chair at the back of the show, trying to figure out wether or not my mom was still. During my sixth beer of the night, I spotted a a small lady in a black hoodie with a big camera on the right side of the stage. It couldn’t be anybody else.

No change actually, at Fu Xue

During my quick visit to the Fu Xue Market this morning, I noticed that the shops are indeed putting their items outside the again.

 

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Did you know that in China, cats lay eggs? :)

 

Kisse katt.

 

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Yellows, reds and a white living peacefully together.

 

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Corn

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This was my favorite shop. To them I had my loyalty and felt guilty if I would ever out of convenience buy from someone else.  The whole front part there was always covered in veggies, and the woman would be cooking inside the doors to the right. Jing Jing was always welcome to sniff whatever she liked. But they have not yet opened after the cops showed up last week. What happened?

 

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The hutongs are being rebuilt everywhere, so these days this is very normal sight. Cute, arent they?

 

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So yes, I am biting my nails again.

 

 

 

 

Clearing up Fu Xue

Shop with umbrellas and goods outside, is packing it in.

Fu Xue Hutong

It was 10 clock in the morning, and I was there to get my dogs breakfast. When I asked the woman in the shop selling me dog food, she smiled with her lunch box in hand and chopsticks in her mouth. Then told me that starting today; they can no longer keep their products outside of the stores. Every single item needs to be inside, because they want this street to be an easy passage rather than a crowded slow market.

In general this is a non-issue issue, but the problem is that the shop owners wont have enough floor space for their assortment now. When stocking up on goods they were counting on space that now isn’t available. The first meter outside the shop was used as part of the store for years and years, not just here, but everywhere in Beijing, in China. That is just how things are done and business run. With this way of doing things, the floor space inside functions as storage when they are closed for the night. So now, when everything needs to move in, they have too much stuff to display neatly. Everything ends up on top of each other. The street is now nice and empty, but the stores are chaotic. For now at least, I’m sure they will figure it.

Headcount on the cops gave me at least 12. They all seemed calm, even happy when basking in the sun. Not all of them needed to be telling people what to do at all times, so I guess the number of them is just a visual key to the shop owners that this is serious business. Most of them was just standing around. Kind of like in Sweden when communal workers are getting anything done. 7 guys will arrive. 1 will be digging, 1 will be in the big machine moving rocks around and the rest will be commentators with cigarettes in hand. So Sweden and China aint all that different.

Got some pictures from there because I visit this market a lot and today was a historical thing, I felt. Kind of like that one time last year when it was covered in snow. This morning I didn’t have my camera when the shops I am familiar with were moving things inside, and when I got back with my camera the cops had moved on to another of the street. I managed to capture the results, not the process. At the other area I didn’t get close because I decided to leave as soon as I heard the policemen poking each other about the foreigner taking pictures. That was que to split.

Hospital, Taxi & Vintage

sak_5290My dear friend Finn had planned to dress up as Courtney Love for Halloween. There is nothing he doesn’t love or know about her. According to him, she did most likely not kill Curt, but who knows? So this day was meant for dress hunting, but first: The hospital.

You see, after falling down the stairs last weekend, (thanks to a combination of slippery dancing shoes, wet rain and even wetter drinks) he now needed some stitches removed. Poor thing.

 

Incredible how complex the system inside a Hospital is.

First we spoke to 2 ladies wearing pollution masks at the reception table. After some sewing gestures and pointing to his elbow, they gave us a note and told us to go to the “Register and Cashing” line.

Waited about 10 minutes in line, then showed the note to the girl behind the window. Paid 4.5 RMB and were told to go to the third floor.

On the third floor we talked to a second pair of ladies wearing pollution masks at a reception table. They pointed us to the long line leading to another Registering.

The girl behind that window was not getting it. Our endless sewing gestures and pointing to the elbow got us nowhere. This actually happens a lot…

Sidestory: Once upon a friend my husbands workmate Anders was buying deodorant at Jenny Lou’s in the CBD, Central Business District. Jenny Lou’s is a popular Imported Goods store, like Aprils Gourmet. However, the deodorant was behind the cashier displayed in the shelf. So he pointed at it, but the girl never turned around to look behind her. Instead she kept looking at the tip of his finger with a confused and annoyed face. Then he used a very informative body language, basically demonstrating how deodorant is applied under your arm. Still, nothing from her. The story ends with him leaving without any deodorant.

Eventually a kind senior with a beautiful face behind us helped us out. He told the girl behind the glass that we needed stitches removed, then he placed a warm hand on my shoulder. Finns shoulder too. then the 80 year old Chinese man smiled at us, and both of us felt much oddly comforted.

Walked back to the second pair of ladies with the masks, with our new note at hand. They gestured in towards the corridor. This was a long-ass corridors with plenty of doors on both sides, people sitting on benches outside of most of them; and we had really no idea where to begin. Strolling along, pretending like we know what we are doing was definitely our best option. Second door we knocked on had man inside who welcomed us. This man removed all the bandage, cleaned up the wound and told us to go to the next room.

What?! WHY?! Why cant you just rid the stitches?? I wondered… But we just did as we were told.

Having a little looksie.

Doctors office...
Gotta say, his room was lovely with all the sunlight and the plants!

The next room he sent us to had a big crowd already, so the nurse told everyone to get out. To wait in the corridor. Since it was just a matter of waiting now, together with the other folks who had taken a tumble down the stairs or a hit in the face, I left Finn there by himself. Not to go home, but to head down stairs to charge his Hospital Card.

Gotta love babies.

I cant assume it is the mother holding the little one, because Ayis are often used. An ayi is like a housekeeper and Nanny; but referred to with a more loving term, Aunt. Even I got one! To me she is my Chinese Mom. A term we both came up with after been together 3 years. Got this shot while I was waiting in line at the “Register and Cashing”, again.

Finn was already in with the nurse and almost ready to go when I got back, roughly 10 minutes later. The nurse was great! She posed for a few pictures and her attention to Finns wound was free of charge. No money needed unless the stitches are actually removed, and it wasn’t time for that yet.

Go Nurse!

Next venture: Find a TAXI!

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CCTV reflecting on a buswindow

CCTV reflecting on a buswindow

Last venture fo the day: Dress hunt!

We went out to find a white, puffy-armed dolly dress a la Courtney Love, but got something better. LEATHER!

Vintage Style on Gulou Dong Da Jie is THE place for anyone looking for Vintage originals. Boots, jackets, coats, dresses, skirts and shirts. You name it; he gots it! The guy who runs the shop sleeps in the back, loves Viking Metal, is hardcore straight edge and about 30 years old.

Finn’ll work that 650 RMB Vintage Japanese leather vest into his Halloween Costume. Courtney Love got been replaced out of convenience and the love for leather. How I will utilize this blue 800 RMB beauty I found, I am not sure. I guess, Ill just you know.. wear it. Clothes like this dress, meaning neat and proper, I mostly buy when I gotta compensate bad behavior. True story. Because they reminds me to adult. To be organized and overall appropriate. So I wore the dress out of the shop, went home and cooked a nice dinner. Even baked a cake! #MarthaStewart4Halloween
His vest was 650RMB My dress 800 RMB, got it down to 650. Sold.

Fantastic Shop on Gulou Dong Da Jie.

Fantastic shop on Gulou Dong Da Jie.

 

Rebuilding Bao Chao Hutong

Baochao Hutong

Baochao Hutong is one of the hutong alleys on Gulou Dong Da Jie, the big street leading up to Drum and Bell tower. Gu means drum, Lou means tower. Baochao is a hella busy street full of people and shops. A lot of small shops for the locals, selling vegetables, window repair, all-around-fix-your-house-up shops sellings sinks and what not. there is also restaurants, hairdressers, jewelry stores, shoe and clothes.

Baochao Hutong

Foreigners come here for noodles and dumplings at Mr.Shi’s, burgers at Serbia Burger or drinks at Modernista. Modernista is a very popular French owned barm, famous for there events and weekly Drink and Draw on Tuesdays. They are constantly supporting local artists with exhibitions, even me once through Scratching Beijing.


Semi related side story: More importantly, my favorite store/coffeeshop/systembolag/bar is there. A magical place called Wine Dance Supermarket. I go there to buy my Japanese eggs, gluten free pasta, fancy granola, Argan schampoo, tomatoes that are actually red and have taste (at the market you only get vampire tomatoes. They are really pale and makes you wonder whats wrong.), sour cream, avocadoes, deodorants etc. Recently I also started going there for a quick fix of coffee as well. Their Cappuchino’s always contain double espresso shots, and cost 15 RMB. No other place gets you a nice hot tasty strong coffee with cinnamon on top for that money. Plus you can buy a whole bag of your favorite cookies for normal supermarket price to go with it, instead of putting 30RMB on 1 piece of cheesecake. Winedance is now joining in on the rebuilding wave, so they are adding a second room to their shop. Planning to maybe start making sandwiches and put tables inside. Now they have tables outside, or they can pull up a chair for you if you rather stay in there. About a month ago they introduced Chinese organic eggs from rural China. A brand called Ben Dan, which is hilarious, because “ben dan” literally means stupid egg. It is an insult you would use to someone who is an idiot. Once I heard a women shouting that at her dog who wasn’t moving out of the way properly when cars were coming.

However, Baochao is being rebuilt. It is one out of several methods the government is using to reduce the Beijing population. They want it down by 15% in 4 years. This is why people started getting kicked out of their hutongs recently, and apartments. Whats is happening on baochao is the samething. The goal there is to make it more of a commercial street. They don’t want it to be packed with people just dwelling around, living inside of the shop they are working at. They want each shop there to be a shop only. But its is very common for people to move in to Beijing from the countryside, renting a small space from where they sell cigarettes, alcohol and a few other things people buy often. Then keep a bed behind the cashier for the whole family of 3. Soon this will be a thing of the past.

Baochao Hutong

Baochao Hutong

Baochao Hutong

Hutong life

The hutong roof is more of a floor for the hutong cat, rather than a roof for the hutong human. These cats have have clear territories, the cats are big and really G looking in general. Basically, it is cruel to let a kitten lose outside all on its own. Because that kitten is gonna get eaten. However, the roof of a hutong is beautiful. Old or new, still gorgeous. And these images I shot from my friend Ethans terrace, east of Jing Shan park. He lives in a traditional hutong courtyard, with a big tree in the middle surrounded by houses. The open space is shared and respectfully looked after by all families living there inside of the same red gate.

2 old ladies came back from the market while I was outside shooting a pie. They handed Ethan fresh vegetables that had been pulled out of the soil that very morning. You could smell it. You could see it and feel it. Then they planted some chives by the big tree in the middle and told Ethan, that he can go snatch some whenever he pleases.

Last weekend he gave her the big late of cured salmon we shot last, and I guess that fish made him a friend.

From the very begining of this project, the neigbours 4 year old son took interest in us, and he became our friend. Frank and I spent time a lot of time in the courtyard reading his English book about robots while Ethan was killing a lobster, braising som meat or chopping onions. It was so great to have an enthusiastic boy babbling Chinese to me and wanting me to pay him attention, read for him, teach him English and you know, just, hang out. I loved every bit of it. Such a sweet boy, and full of energy and ideas. Creative one for sure.

Being a Chinese child is not the same as being a Canadian or Swedish child. As a 4 year old in Sweden you go out and play with your buddies until your mom shouts through out the door that it is time for dinner. If you cant hear your own mom, you can hear somebody elses. It kind of works like in the old days when people would light a fire to warn for attacks. That fire lights another fire further away, and eventually the village is told. Just like one mom shouting makes another mom shout. Eventually, the kids are told. In Beijing, your friends are all studying or learning something. Most likely piano or extra curriculum math. And there is no playground. You have yourself, and your parents, and most likely no sibling. So naturally, Frank was drawn to us, because he had nothing to do. Grandma was busy cooking and the other folks around were so worried Frank was bothering us. They kept pulling him away and excusing him. Took a long time before we could convince them to just leave him be, because we are happy to have him around.

Franks mother kindly gave us abottle of rum at the end of the first weekend, as a thank you for being so good to her boy. Franks “popo”, meaning his fathers mother, came out one evening with a plate full of steaming dumplings for us.

The life in the hutongs, is really something. The connections you have with the families around you in a courtyard, is beautiful. The sense of community is really comforting.

If I ever need to live alone, I would love to have a community like that to rely on.

Hutong rooftop by Jingshan Park Hutong rooftop by Jingshan Park Hutong rooftop by Jingshan Park