All week a comment she made has been buzzing around my head that relates to our understanding of Chinese history and if you read this blog and like it then it's pertinent.
Some time ago Mara took her parents back to Harbin where they'd lived and she was born. She commented that, "they see what what was there; we see what's left". Harbin - Shanghai- Peking - Wherever - makes you think about how we look at the these places. It's a useful mantra to keep in your head when you're visiting any of these cities or other places.
As someone who divides their time pretty evenly writing about China now and China back then this seemed like a place to throw all the interesting bits that fall through the cracks somehow and never get used anywhere else.
It's basically the stuff that doesn't get used in my writing about modern China or in the books I do about old China - i.e. probably of little interest to anyone but me and therefore ideally suited to an obscure blog up a dark cul-de-sac of the Internet.