They watched with a deceptive air of insouciance that masked a deeper, almost territorial, wariness.
Stray cats, in various hues of black, brown and ginger, rested lazily on the beams of a hollowed out three-storey shikumen. The brisk cold suppressed the stench of garbage and junk just behind the wall.
I kicked through the rubble lining a narrow lane where two shikumen entrances squared a corner. Their headers were very subtle European-styled carvings. Over the last two months, the various households have left; leaving the doors bricked and boarded up.
In the main lane, loose wires and rotting beams created an uneven canopy overhead.
“Look closer,” a local photographer once said to me. “Do you see them?”
Tucked on the side or sitting atop in the middle of the lane are small, DIY-like surveillance cameras, crudely taped on hanging bamboo poles. (Shanghai Street Stories)