In an area that is being demolished, remaining houses and makeshift buildings ensure business is continuing for as long as there are customers around. In this case the customers are construction workers looking for massage and other services. Small shops and restaurants, a pool game club and “hairdressers” are the business. The streets are dirty and the smell of garbage and public toilets is overwhelming.
We talked with one woman who, as a “hairdresser”, provides relaxation services to her clients, mainly in the evening. She starts work at eight o’clock in the morning and continues until ten o’clock at night. After work she returns to her flat nearby. She is from Anhui province and came to Beijing a few years ago. Her husband makes a living with decorating houses. She used to have a much bigger workplace, but that building has already been demolished. Now she has a temporary place, just a few square meters, made from corrugated roof panels and material found on the demolition site. Before the demolition began, her business was much better.
She smiles when she starts talking about her son. Her son has a wide range of interests. He likes painting and dancing. He currently lives in the south of China and studies Information Engineering at a college in Kunming.
Then her smile disappears and she looks sad. “He never calls me mother anymore”.