Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Hunger for the Sky

I am staying in a community of approximately 4000 people which is surrounded by natural beauty that makes me wish I were a visual artist. A short walk from where I sleep is a harbor with water that changes color with the talent of a chameleon. Behind that are hills that frequently look as though they are mistily emerging from a developing Polaroid shot, or fading away into a dream interrupted by wakefulness.

Visible on the horizon on the other side of this spot are small, green mountains that rise up like a surprise behind the urban landscape. A short train ride from where I stay takes me into the heart of these outcroppings where there are enough trees to make me believe in forests again, and small houses with large gardens, and a lovely, clear waterfall.

I have to remind myself of these things when I look out my window and see walls of leprous concrete that soar ten stories above my view. The sky is so far above me that it hurts my neck to look for it, and the only hint of sun is a brightening of the air, sharp shadows on concrete, and a glare coming from windows slanted open that catch the light from above.

"Is it raining today?" I asked the lady at the ground floor laundry one morning. She laughed and said, "I don't know. I live upstairs." At that moment I understood that in the community of Chungking Mansions, of the 4000 people who live here, there are some who rarely see natural light, let alone the natural world.

Hari and Jun claim to never have days off, which means their light is almost completely fluorescent. The laundry lady closes on Sunday, and I hope she goes out to revive memories of how raindrops feel on her skin.


ThatCase said...

A few hundred of your words are worth more than any picture.

Hmmm ... maybe I should write that down, it might be a cliche some day, he said with a grin.

Janet Brown said...

Why thank you--did you ever live in a small trailer way outside of Fbks Ak?

Jessi Cotterill said...

Hello Janet

Guess what.. I'm coming back to blogging world. Are you still in China? Hope all is well with you. I'd love to see you whenever soon.


ThatCase said...

Do not think so, but, based on your reply to my previous comment, perhaps I should ask Hillary first.

Nope, I would remember a trailer (even a far away, small one). Further, I would definitely remember Hillary!

Janet Brown said...

And I thought I remembered you but no...a slippage in my perfection (I jokes, as they used to say in Savoonga. Alaska.)

ThatCase said...

:-) Don't know about Alaska, but someone down here said, "perfection lies only in the eyes of the holder". If that's true, slippage is probably a good thing!

janet brown said...

Sans doute.