As London adjusts after the close of the 2012 Olympics writers including A Yi, Santiago Roncagilolo and Masha Gessen, reflect on how their cities have changed – for better and for worse – since hosting the Games.

A Yi

Beijing, 2008

I rented a house in an old block of flats, and you could see Dawang Road from the window. Any minute of any hour, any time whether it was night or day, there were cars racing to and fro on the road. The cars appeared in my dreams like two columns of bullets shooting at each other. I slept very badly. One day, I opened my door to a bunch of guys who wanted to come in. A short while later they had taken down all the old windows in the house and replaced them with brand-new ones made from an aluminum alloy. I didn’t have to pay for the work and neither did my landlord; even today I’m not aware of who did. By the time the Beijing Olympics came, if the people in those cars on Dawang Road happened to look up, they wouldn’t have seen any old buildings. Ever since we hosted the Olympics, the sky has often turned very blue and even today it’s still very blue, whereas before the Olympics, leaving the house was sometimes akin to taking a swim in a melancholy ocean of grey.

Translated by Alice Xin Liu.

Note: Dawang Road is a centrally located and commercial area in Beijing.

http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/After-the-Olympics-Left