|The back compartment of each drawer of the 8th row, starting with 8.3 and heading across 8.4, 8.5, 8.6 , 8.7 & 8.8...|
Somewhere, sometime, in the grand scheme of the Cabinet, I had the idea that a theme should run secretly across several drawers, for the amusement of the discerning observer. In the end, only two such patterns emerged, one in Row 4 (which I actually think was accidental. See 4.5. 4.6 & 4.7 ) & this one across the back reaches of the drawers in Row 8. There's one other planned path & that is the meridian that runs in a somewhat interrupted square around the peripheral edges of the Cabinet...but that's another story... 8.1...
The wrapped pipe that runs thru these drawers, though it hardly does justice to the real thing, is meant as an ode to the artfully insulated plumbing of the old lanes...During the "High Communist" period, housing in Shanghai was scarce & entire families were forcibly moved, by the government, into single rooms in houses built as single family homes; a lane house likes ours might have been occupied by as many as 5 or 6 multi-generational families, some twenty or thirty people.
When we first moved into the house, I had the same conversation over & over again with curious neighbors: How many floors? Three. How many people? Two. How many children? None. Followed by much head shaking & muttering on the part of my cross-examiner.
The kitchen under the old style was communal, sometimes housing several burners, each with its own gas meter; food prep was done outside at the sink in the lane. Our immediate neighbors still live this way, three or four unrelated couples prepping their food & washing their laundry outside (and, in their kitchen, playing mahjong deep into the wee hours of the morning...)