somewhere an intersection

by lingling

a friday 17:16 – sunny hot. underneath zhongshanbeiyi lu somewhere between hongkou stadium and jing’an temple. one of the busiest intersections between a and b.

elevated roads in shanghai often have different names than the roads running completely parallel and immediately under them. maps only ever show the names of the elevated roads, not the ones beneath, so you can ride down a road everyday for months wondering what it’s called. and if you never ask you’ll just keep on not knowing.

like most intersections outside shanghai’s city center it’s nondescript. an eternally deserted three floor ‘cafe’ next to a fucking bank. across the street a massive hairdresser’s next to a bicycle store next to a china post. a fruit stall, a milk-tea stand between some chinese restaurants with no names. you could spend your whole life on that intersection and one day if you wandered too far and lost your bearings you’d never be able to find your way back again. you would spend the rest of your life looking at intersections thinking, ‘was it a bank of china next to manabe across from the fuit-stall? or was it fruit-stall next to a ubc coffee between a giant bike store and the xinjiang noodles?’

a red light in one direction and a green in the other. cars stop and some don’t. bikes stop and some don’t. pedestrians stand in front of the bike lane and first two lanes of car traffic creating a bottleneck and closing them off while they wait for the light to turn green. by blocking off the lanes while they smoke butts and yell into fake nokias they will save precious milliseconds when the light turns yellow.

there’s a man lying on the ground in the middle of the intersection. he’s face down on the pavement and his head is a funny shape, but there’s no blood to be seen. there is a thousand pieces of scooter scattered throughout the intersection. the absence of blood bodes well for the man, but the shape of his head does not. when pavement changes the shape of someone’s head they usually don’t get to drive the rest of the way home. or drive anywhere for that matter. the momentum of his trajectory and the sudden stop has left him lying in a shrug-like position. it’s grotesque.

the next day i looked in the newspaper to see if it would be reported. it was. one man killed as he ran a red light and crashed into a car. i finally learned the name of the street.