Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out
– French proverb and quoted in and inspired the title of the Chinese novel, Fortress Besieged.
After being passionate about bigness, and the magnificent, the splendid, and the modern, I started to learn to appreciate the beauty of smallness.
Growing up in the Smallness
Grew up in a mid-sized city, Luoyang, in the middle part of China (with 6 million population), most of the things around me are small.
The biggest building in the area of my school is a theater. In the current world-class standard, that theater is just a mini model of the real theater at 3:1 scale.
The tallest building in the area is 6 stories high. In the current Shanghai standard, the lowest residential building that is not classified as a villa.
The road is narrow – just one wide lane in each direction, making it difficult to pass.
That was the memory in the early of 1990s.
Beijing! The Big City
My first visit to Beijing in 1993 shocked me a lot. I loved the high-raised residential buildings that stands 18 floors high from where I stand. The contrast made me, and I believe many Chinese people, to admire the height of the buildings, and the width of the road.
Later, after I am transplanted to Shanghai, the high buildings, and complicated road system, including the traffic jam, are mixed together to form a scene of the modern, and the future.
“How I hope one day, Luoyang can be as big as Shanghai!” I dreamed when the tallest building of 14 floors in height was just under discussion.
Back to Smallness
After 15 years in Shanghai, and travel to many places in this world, I started to really understand the beauty of smallness. I started to enjoy travel to the old Hongqiao Airport T1 instead of much more modern, and big Pudong Airport, because the small airport provide easy access to the city, and don’t require me to walk too long. Just few years ago, the bad news of losing the chance to fly to/from PVG would ruin my entire day. The airport I like most started to be the Nanyang Airport, and Aspen airport, where you pick up your luggage at the side of the aircraft, and everyone walk from the plane through the small room (they call it terminal), feeling as the VIP of VIPs.
I started to love small town like Aspen, CO, or small city in Hainan. If I have a choice, I live in places like Aspen where there is just 5000 residents. Los Angeles? Oh. No. Thanks. New York? Oh. No. Thanks!
Smallness is the outside of my besieged fortress.