I Write to the Sound Of Almost Constant Drilling

Men at work in Shenzhen, China. (all photos; AvaMingImages)

Yesterday afternoon, I paused for a moment from a day of following my passion. A day filled with glorious, creative writing. Nothing else to do. No-where else to be.

I realised that nothing was switched on in my small apartment except the fridge, which is brand new, totally eco friendly according to the label and so makes no sound at all.

Everything else was off. Air conditioner. Heater. Lights. TV. Music. The only other piece of electronic equipment which was running was my laptop and, again, it makes no sound.

Still I’d been disturbed by something as I’d stopped typing to take a well deserved break. I just had to figure out what it was.

I turned my head in different directions and listened carefully. Stilled my own breathing to make doubly sure and yep, there it was. My every move, thought and carefully typed word was accompanied by the sound of three different types of drilling coming from three different directions and, it had been like this all day.

This used to be a lovely park. Wonder what it’ll be when it’s finished?

Sadly, this is not unique to my current living situation. When I first came to China and lived in Xu Zhou the local goverment were re-building part of a shopping centre, which was located within my residential community. The workmen drilled from 6:30am until 2:00am, under whose orders I’ll never know, but I’m pretty sure it’s someone who didn’t live nearby.

Since moving south to Shenzhen, the building works are just as much in effect and nearly everywhere I go has the backdrop of what I call the Bang Bang orchestra


Building site behind my apartment

In China it seems that building means progress and there are talks of whole, longstanding neighbourhoods being demolished to make way for more shiny malls. But what about the old, historic areas seeped in culture, tradition and value that could be razed to the ground in the name of moving forward? With such actions, in thirty years time, will there be any significant difference between China and the west in terms of aesthetics?

If you appreciate the glory of beautiful old Chinese buildings and want to feel five thousand years of history beneath your feet as you tread where Dynasty leaders once trod, perhaps you should come to China now before it all disappears.

Just remember to bring ear plugs so you can get a good night’s sleep in the midst of all the drilling.


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