International authors bookmark city inspirations
To mark the World Tourism Day on Thursday, international authors took part in an inclusive reading salon to explore the connection between travel and personal growth, as well as between hometowns and other places one visits during their lifetimes.
The salon, titled "Soul Voyages: Traveling with Words," was held at the Shanghai Jiushi Art Museum on the Bund. The authors were from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Egypt, Argentina, and Cyprus.
Guided by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, and the Shanghai United Media Group, the barrier-free reading project was organized by Shanghai Daily and the Shanghai Writers' Association.
Known for its tolerance for diverse cultures, the city of Shanghai is attracting more and more international writers to visit and record its charm.
It was the first time that six of the seven writers had visited Shanghai. The lively city scenes and lifestyles impressed them and will probably inspire them to create.
Argentine writer Santiago Loza said that to enter a city he needs to walk it, awaken his senses, be attentive, look, smell and listen.
"Walking along the side of the Huangpu River, watching the sunset, the lights coming on," he said. "Sit down, walk again, retain everything I have seen in my memory. Keep walking until I'm exhausted."
The explosion of beautiful lights on the Huangpu River, the incense smoke of local temples, the gigantic red building of the China Art Museum and the noodle restaurants all left him a deep impression.
For the writers, Shanghai is a "distant city." However, this distance allows them to rediscover themselves, while also bringing new insights and perspectives.
Clara Chow, a writer from Singapore, said that the street scenes of the city bring her endless inspiration for creation.
"I was walking down Wuding Road last week and saw this youth speeding by on his bicycle," Chow said. "He was wearing a gold outfit with the legend 'Indestructible as Gold' down his back in four bold Chinese characters. I'm very curious about him. What is his life in Shanghai like? What are his dreams? What does he hope to achieve? Maybe he is really invincible – a real secret Shanghai superhero. I want to write his story and the adventures he has."
Some special photos displayed at the salon also caught the attention of both writers and readers.
From a distance, the photos depict the urban landscape. But on closer look, the main contour lines on the photos are outlined with raised dots.
"There are two very tall buildings on this photo, and another building next to them is not tall, but it is very large," said visually impaired reader Xu Renyu after touching the raised dots on the photo. "With these special photos, I can feel how big the world is."
The row of photos is retired teacher Hu Jin's "Touchable Image" project. Before retiring, Hu was a teacher at the Shanghai School for Blind Children.
Hu has applied special printing technology to make these photos accessible and "visible" to visually impaired people.
Australia writer Kristel Thornell thought it very important to promote inclusive reading.
"Reading broadly encourages us to be open and curious, to train ourselves to identify with new points of view, to widen the boundaries of our awareness," Thornell said.
At the salon, the multilingual website www.meet-in-shanghai.net was also launched in a new version.
The website provides authoritative and comprehensive information about the city's culture and tourism for global travelers.
"Shanghai, My Faraway City," an international collection of photo stories was also launched by the website and Shanghai Daily. Twenty of the most beautiful photos capturing impressive moments of Shanghai will be made into accessible, and readable, versions for more people to "see" Shanghai. The best ones will be presented at the libraries in the city.
The writers enjoyed a "Shencheng Sightseeing" bus ride to the city's well-known landmarks, including Xintiandi and Sinan Mansion.
The double-decker tourist bus with the City News Service (CNS) logo and artwork was provided by Qiangsheng Transportation of Shanghai Jiushi (Group) Co Ltd.
The writers not only got to appreciate the scenery along the way, but they could also listen to the introduction of Shanghai landmarks by the editor of Lonely Planet (Shanghai Edition) and gain insight into local customs.