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October 23, 2014

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Living somewhere between reality and dream

If some time ago somebody would have told me I was going to spend two months in Shanghai taking in her everyday life, roaming around her streets and walking among her people and history, I would have thought such a statement nothing but a good wish. A wonderful one that foresaw me living in an exotic, far-off land — one so different from my native Argentina.

The fact is I’m now here due to a most kind invitation to take part in the Shanghai Writing Program, which was created by the Shanghai Writers’ Association, presided over by Wang Anyi.

The fact of being “here and now” means many things to me. I am wholeheartedly thankful since I feel I’m undergoing this experience the very time this had to happen: I mean it is to me a dream come true as well as a reality that became a “live” dream in itself.

When I was a child I used to think of Shanghai as the far-off city of progress where the sun lived. Now I’ve seen I was not wrong: living in this city means to grow conscious of technology as it takes a new step every second while it partakes in tradition at the same time.

This contrast is something which particularly shocks me: to have tradition and the breakthrough coexisting without imbalance, without devouring the other.   

And in this “realized dream” we find people and the way we relate to each other. I’ve wondered and walked around and about many a place on this planet. All of them were so different from each other. Yet I always have come across caring people, amicable, creative, civil and willing to help their fellow beings.

In this sense I particularly find in Shanghai people a point in common with my Latin community: one which has to do with affection reflected in hugs and embraces and physical proximity. These seem something natural and undoubtedly different from the attitude adopted by other communities in this respect.  

I sometimes feel any moment the huge tall skyscrapers and towers will wake up and start walking slowly from the Bund up to Daduhe Road so as to witness the beauty of the sunset at Changfeng Park. And in this “dream,” people and their children race happily and move about everywhere and expand themselves as if they were giant soap bubbles or a glorious morning symphony. And everybody laughs. And music is everywhere. And I stand as a joyous witness to such a scene.

Between reality and dream, Shanghai is an all inclusive bridge between the past and the future. And it is on that bridge where I write my poems, my stories and my novel.

I rebuild the magic city in Spanish, English, Shanghainese, Italian, French — a multilingual and multi-expressive, deeply humane process. And I also know Shanghai is writing me from within.

(Enrique Solinas, from Argentina, is a participant in this year’s Shanghai Writing Program.)


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