Many residences boasted picturesque double entry doors. With a distinctly un-Chinese color palette, the plain dust colored walls brilliantly framed the doors’ pastel blues, sea greens, deep reds, and yellow-browns. Occasionally, a bright red “改造” (Rebuild) was emblazoned across the fading paint. Above the lintels of more well-kept doorways, a little plaque spelled out in red characters “文明户” (Civilized Household). Though the ruins seemed like a tribute to the splendor of bygone days, the city was alive with an air of renewal. Uyghur men chatted as they dug the foundations for new houses and dust clouds emanated from roofs being torn down to be rebuilt. In the labyrinthine alleys, children darted past, and hejab-veiled women scurried around corners. In the shadow of Han oversight, daily life continued and Uyghur culture persisted.
Why China? “There’s really no single reason why I’m obsessed with China. There are so many things that draw me here–rediscovering my family roots (叶落归根), the excitement of such a rapidly growing and changing economy, the challenge of becoming culturally fluent in such a complex place, and the global importance of the 1.3 billion people who live here.”