In celebration of 30 years of Reform and Opening Up in China
I was born in the mid-80s, and I live in a time filled up with innovation, and as a result, desire. One minute I am talking on my new cell-phone, the next it’s gone out of style. I can hardly imagine what life would be like without all these fancies, until a few days ago I came into this workshop in 798.
Here were the first series of comic books that I’d ever read, the automatic pencil-box who had buttons to push for different stationeries, and those little clumsy toy soldiers with whom we used to build armies and fight. All of a sudden, my vague memories of childhood became crystal clear. A time of no computer games, a time even a cassette walkman would be too conspicuous.
But if I call these things the old story, then other items here would be ancient. I think they dated back to… well at least my parents’ time.
“This leather jacket was flying wear for Chinese Air Force. Previously, the uniform of our air force had been a mixture of the other two forces. The jacket was green from the land force, while pants were blue from the navy. Chinese Air Force used to be a small army when the country was just founded. But it became stronger and stronger with our scientific and technological development. As a result, the uniform gradually formed its own distinctive style and finally became maybe the best uniform among the three armies.”
Just like the uniform, every item in this room had a unique story. Although they were not as systematically organized as history books, they were still a sweet memento of the days gone by.
“There was an aged lady who came here recently. She was in her 60s or 70s and accompanied by her sons and daughters. To my surprise she was even more moved than those in their 80s. It may be because we can recall our childhood via the internet. But for the previous generations, they have nowhere to find these memories. When she came and saw these photos her eyes were flooded with tears. Especially when she spotted Chairman Mao in a photo over there, she couldn’t help weeping. She told me it took her back to her youth immediately.”
Yes indeed, many people came here and found their lost memories. And that was also the very reason why Zhu and his friends had opened the workshop in the first place. But now they have bigger dreams.
“We’ve got a graduation picture here. The teacher may have already passed away. But we want to find all the other people in it. This photo was taken in 1963. Now it’s 2008. 45 years has passed. But if we could reunite them here and take a photo exactly like this one, it would be of great significance.
We hope this can become a place to find old friends, and to make new friends.”
For the size of the place, it took people only a few minutes to walk around, but it took much more to recall. You couldn’t be familiar with everything here, but I’m sure everyone could find something that belonged to his own memory, even one thing. That would do.
Back to the reality. We are still in a world full of competition and progress. And we are always told to move on. But it also feels good to look back sometimes. And when I actually turn around, I see the power of change.