Beijing 2006 - Just hanging on (1) by Marjolein Katsma

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Share this page Photo © 2006 Marjolein Katsma | Text © 2012 Marjolein Katsma

Tags for this photograph:
beijing, china, hutong, zh? b?o shì ji?, zhu bao shi jie, zhubao shi street, destruction, people, coping, hanging on, pragmatic, shop, shopfront, pajamas

This is part of the second series of Beijing 2006 – The hutong photos; see my journal posts Beijing 2006 – The hutong and Beijing 2006: Out with the old, in with the new for the background of this series.

See the location on a satellite map (Google’s street map doesn’t register with the satellite view!)

One thing I always admire in the Chinese is how they can be so very pragmatic and inventive. Many people in Beijing (and all over China) were facing big changes, or already had have to deal with them: Moving to a new apartment, usually in a totally different neighborhood, losing their shop, and having to rent a new space somewhere to continue to do their business.

Of course there were protests, and not everyone would actually be better off after all this (but some would), and especially for very old people it can be hard to be uprooted and to move somewhere different, and miss the close-knit community of the hutong they’ve know all their life.

But others, especially shop owners, were just hanging on – as long as their shops were still standing, or even half-standing(!), it was business as usual. The shopping public acted the same: as long as the shops were still there, they still came – even if one half of the street had already disappeared.

So here’s a rather cheerful little series of images of how the Beijingers are coping with the hutong being torn down around them – in sometimes surprising ways…

This is a little pajama shop along Zhubaoshi Street (zh? b?o shì ji?, which means “Jewellery Market Street” – there are indeed jewelry stores at the southern end of the street but further north there are also a lot of clothing shops); the young mother – just smiling about something her little boy said – is tending her shop and her little boy seemingly without a care in the world.

Demolition had not come close to her shop yet, but I wonder if it still exists by now…

Camera: Fuji Finepix F30

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Matted print, black matte


Just hanging on (2)

Beijing 2006 - The (semi-)restaurant

Beijing 2006 - The fashion store


beijing, china, hutong, zhu bao shi jie, zhubaoshi street, destruction, people, coping, hanging on, carry on, pragmatic, shop, shopfront, pajamas

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I have two passions: travel and photography – and these are often combined. Though even in my own city I often have a camera with me!

When I am not actually taking photographs or working on photographs, you may find me busy programming or otherwise working on my websites.

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  • MartinJohnson
    MartinJohnsonover 2 years ago

    Excellent shot

  • Thank you very much, Steve!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Ethna Gillespie
    Ethna Gillespieover 2 years ago

    Great shot! Jam packed. Like the kids hanging around while their parent(s) are working—something we don’t see here.

  • Thank you Ethna! I’ve seen countless little shops like these (though not all as colorful as this), but the threat of approaching demolition gave it an extra dimension. – BTW, is my interpretation of the street name correct?
    Thanks for the favorite, too!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Ethna Gillespie
    Ethna Gillespieover 2 years ago

    Your take on the street name is in the right vein. I’ll check my source for the definitive translation. Looking at this again, it reminds me a little of the Ladies’ Market in Hong Kong—jam packed little stalls.

  • Thank you Ethna! In the street to the South of this one, Liang Shi Dian Jie (where I’d never been before) I took a shot of some kind of cherries – not part of this series – and while trying to put the pins in the satellite image, I also tried putting in the street names in my little Pleco dictionary on my phone. Sometimes it only gives me single words, and it has (understandably) more trouble with pinyin without accents than with Chinese characters, but I was delighted with what I found for these (even though the ‘dian’ part is left untranslated, I could not find that). So now I have loosely translated “food street” and “jewellers’ street” – both of which fit what kind of shops there are (indeed I remember being surprised seeing so many food shops, tiny supermarkets and greengrocers along “food street”). Unfortunately the Chinese characters on the Google map are usually too small for me to try and copy them (handwriting) into the program, but it’s a lot of fun trying to find translations. There’s another attempt at translation here – even though there may have been one character missing, that one was another nice little surprise. I also made a start translating all the text on the photography shop but there’s a lot of text there! Such fun to do though. :)

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Lanii  Douglas
    Lanii Douglasover 2 years ago

    Wonderful work! Congratulations on being featured in “ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS” April 27, 2012

  • Thank you very much Lanii for featuring one of my photos after I’ve only just joined this group. I’m honored!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Georgie Hart
    Georgie Hartover 2 years ago

    I don’t think I’d be able to leave such a stall without making a purchase – some of these colours and patterns are really lovely, and wow, what imposing walls of clothing! Well captured Marjolein.

  • I thought some of them quite attractive, too – not to mention warm, cozy and comfortable. :) This was October, so winter clothing was appearing in the shops, and it was indeed quite appealing. But I didn’t have enough space for such in my luggage – and I was on my way to visit a ‘site’, could not possibly lug a big bag with me all day! I later bought a nice coat (not as bulky, and I could wear it on the way back!) in a shop much like this, haggled over the price, too. :)
    Thank you very much for your great comment, Georgie!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Esther  Moliné
    Esther Molinéover 2 years ago

    great capture, love all the colours and patterns!

  • Aren’t they great? I was on my way somewhere else, not on a shopping spree (that came later in the week) but some of those sets look warm and comfy, too. And I loved the way they were all displayed – a tiny space maximally exploited.
    Thank you so much, Esther!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • eddiechui
    eddiechuiover 2 years ago

    Lovely capture

  • Thank you very much, Eddie!

    – Marjolein Katsma

  • Charmiene Maxwell-batten
    Charmiene Maxw...over 2 years ago

    great work!

  • Thank you so much, Charmiene, for the favorite as well!

    – Marjolein Katsma

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