Mohan Zhang

The places that made me are the places I love

West 3rd Ring

Beijing, China

Not quite the West 3rd Ring, but I was not much of a photographer nor was my phone much of a camera back in 2013.

I hesitate to claim this corner of Beijing as a home. I spent the first four years of my life here, but I have almost no memories from that time.

And since then, I’ve been back just a handful of occasions, never longer than a couple of weeks at a time. The most significant trip was in 2013 after I left New Zealand. I wanted to visit my relatives and experience Beijing and Shijiazhuang as an adult.

That said, the trip lasted only a month and I don’t think I ever lost the feeling of being a guest. Even so, I walked the streets near this part of the city where my grandparents live and eventually gained a familiarity with my surroundings. In particular, I found a comfort in the true anonymity that I felt in a place where everyone looked like me.

But in the years since that trip, I’ve concluded that my provenance is maybe similar to that of an iPhone: the hardware may have been originally made in China, but the software was definitely written in the west.