Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sometimes people ask me why I live in Jing’An. It’s expensive, and it’s far from where I work. I usually just smile and say, “Oh, I don’t know… I just like Jing’An,” and I let it go at that. But, here’s the real reason:

Last night I came out of the subway about 8 pm. The first thing I heard was a guy playing saxophone. He was standing at the entrance to a little consumerist festival which we have every weekend. It’s a small lane that wends across the back side of the park. People set up tables and sell whatever they’ve got, and it’s different every week! So I paused at the sax player, and looked at the goods for sale. I rarely see anything I want, but I talked to people and I petted a small dog.

After I crossed the street I dipped back into the subway station and bought a loaf of blueberry, walnut bread. On the way out I spoke to the brolly seller. He kind of knows me because I’ve bought a couple of umbrellas. Then I noticed the Ports building which is clad in lighted bricks. The whole building is made of lighted bricks. It’s amazing. We don’t have anything like that in Sweeny.

At the Kerry Center I stopped to watch the dogs play. Most of the dogs are only interested in their doggy business, but one old beagle came over and touched my leg with his nose so I gave him a head rub. I didn’t see the dog that bit me that time, but I always look for him and his guardians.

At the corner I saw some people whom I see frequently. They have a little baby who reached out for me and gave me the nicest little baby cuddle.

At the other corner I saw one of the homeless guys. He wants a yuan, but he also wants to feel that he is part of the regular ebb and flow of life, so I talk to him and pay attention to what he says. This reminds me that, though I may be made of stardust, I am closer to dust than to the stars.

As I walk down Tong Ren I speak to a lady I see. I thought I said “good evening” to her but it turns out I said “good morning.” I always get them mixed up. She corrected me and then herded me into her shop where she really, really wanted me to buy something. I kept telling her, “I fat… this very small,” but she made me try on the biggest thing in the shop before agreeing with me. Then she tried to sell me a purse.

After that I stopped by to see the hookers at Red Sky Bar. I trade them a little English and I tell them Bible stories. I don’t really trade them FOR anything, but we call it a trade. They can give good information, like where to get keys made. I’ve gotten that information from them. There was only one hooker and she felt sad because nobody had picked her. She needs the work. It is getting hard, though, because she is older now and… we talked about that. They have been enjoying the stories of the kings: Saul, David, and Solomon. My friends at the tranny bar like the stories about women: The one getting water, the one who was a whore, the virgin… what a hoot, that one. They love those stories. But these women like hearing about betrayal, opulence, God coming in dreams. They have dreams… still.

Then I finally got to 330 Tong Ren where most everybody was sleeping. I checked on the bird at the gate. He was awake, but I told him he should be sleeping. Two white cats ran out to look at me. I paused at the door for the all-night mah jongg parlour and heard the click of the tiles. My neighbour had taken some of my laundry in the day before when it started raining and he returned it. It was mainly towels and I had assumed that someone stole them. But it was just the neighbor taking care of me again.

There is a club across the street from the lane where sometimes they let me sing.

The juice seller around the corner remembers what I want. Blueberry, strawberry, and a couple kiwi slices. I call it the Lindy. Nobody else calls it that though.

Almost everybody who has a cart and sells things off it knows me.

It’s a great neighborhood for walking. People’s Square and the Bund are an easy walk, as is the former French Concession.

It has a lot of cool history.

My friends from other parts of town enjoy visiting because… Jing’An.

So, why do I live in Jing’An? Why doesn’t everyone? Sure, I might save 1000 RMB a month living somewhere else, but… I dunno.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful, rich tour! I could almost taste, see, smell and hear the scenes as I joined you in the walk through your chosen neighbourhood. Thank you so much, Lindy.