On the day I was supposed to leave Shanghai, I crossed the river separating Pudong where my hotel was, from Puxi, and walked the Bund for an hour, taking photos on my Diana F (which I have yet to send for developing).
By the second day of my stay in the city I began to realise that I was only being exposed to a highly privileged, hugely constructed sliver of the city. Moving between hotel and convention centre and posh shopping mall (for meals), everything was scrubbed sterile, spotless: Every toilet I visited was flawless and scented, cleaner than the ones that we had back home. From my hotel room I spotted a Ferrari parked in the courtyard of the mall opposite, right in front of the giant Prada store. I spent four days living in an artificial bubble, away from the reality of the city. I was there as a member of the mainstream media, after all, a paid guest of that spawn of capitalism, an MNC. What else was I expecting?
(What I came away with from the summit I attended, after listening to CEOs and SVPs talk earnestly about fragmented markets and how to invest in them, was that foreign businessmen have a better understanding of China and its culture than their thinkers and politicians do. Capitalism is warfare of the 21st century, and the conquerors must know their targets well.)