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                     The old lawless city

                 peopled by ruthless entrepreneurs,

                     crowds of coolies, gangs of bandits

                     so lovingly evoked in Western novels

                     has been shanghaied and tucked away

                     in a remote tiny corner

                     that the guide gives us five minutes to look at.


                   The new mega Shanghai

                 with the biggest airport, railway and

                 underground system still in the making

                 but lovingly displayed -

                 with plastic trees and plastic water -

                 on four ultra-modern storeys

                   and marvelled at by middle-class representatives

                     of its twenty million people

                     is turned into flesh at the speed

                     of its reckless drivers

                     for whom red is no answer.


                 My love for this lost literature is irrelevant here,

                     their obsession with urban superlatives

                     nauseating for an old country boy like me

                     but if the triumphal march of the Asian Century

                 will run as smoothly as their maglev train,

                     which cuts a swathe through their six hundred skyscrapers,

                 or will hit the world like one of those nasty tornados

                     remains to be seen - for the capitalistic future

               is an evasive demon, despite this grand museum.