I love Chinese markets. I love the melee and the melody. The selling and the screaming. It all flows together, a little river of life running through the city. Not stopping for the heat or the rain or the weekend.
The only thing that might stop a market, that might change it all, is if you take it away. If you crush it and tip it and make it no more. And that’s what the spray-painted character on the walls of this market mean. 拆 means designated to tear down. Designated to disappear and forget.
In China the tear-down happens to the nooks and crannies. It happens to the places that are old and rickety and real. And the first step is the spray-painted marker, the “拆.”
So it has happened to this place. It has happened to the alley down the street. This place that is imperfect and fascinating. Where people live and work and buy and sell. All in the same stretch. The chickens and the fish and your bike and your bed. All in one big bunch.
And so we walk through it and see it and smell it. Trying to take it all in before it goes away in a rush and a roar… before another marker of what Chengdu used to be gives way to the Chengdu that is tomorrow. But we still have today and today it looks like this. Today it’s still standing.