Saturday, January 20, 2007

a bike ride--the gloom of industry, and winter--old men and kites

A few days ago I went a bike ride to try to search for green spaces in the city. I chose a northern route, along the sand river, which is one of my favorite features of this part of the city. When you pull out of the dense residential section in which I live you pass through a series of abandoned lots along the waterway. Often the plots of land, filled with refuse and the skeletons of old buildings, are surrounded by ugly residential housing complexes, whose dull grey color seems to have been absorbed by the winter sky. There are also a series of smaller parks, but these are not well maintained, and are often filled with refuse, or meld seamlessly with those abandoned lots on their edge.

My hope was to follow the sand river all the way to its eponymous park but, eventually, after passing through a bamboo thicket, I found myself facing a wall and, beyond the wall, a series of train tracks. Beyond the tracks I could see the river, but there it began to leave any vestiges of the city behind; along its shores was nothing but mud,the odd thicket, and old buildings perhaps still in use but appearing long abandoned nevertheless.

I wanted to find green spaces, but not if I had to ride through this first. There is something dim and terrifying about these industrial outer limits of this city, where squatters sit in stone constructs and burn fires of scrap wood in weak-walled aluminum bins, and curious children play carelessly amongst the scrap metal, the scruffs of grass, and the viscous pools of collected liquids--all against a backdrop of industrial haze and that dull winter sky.

So I decided to turn back. On my way, as I rode through a smaller park along the river, I looked over to my right hand side, where dozens of men were lined up along the outer limits of one of those lots. I went down to look at them and see what they were doing. None of them spared a glance for me, even though I was a foreigner in this isolated part of the city. They were too busy. They were all flying kites.

Some of their kites were just a few dozen feet off the ground but some of them were really soaring, hundreds and hundreds of feet above. You could see all of them, even the ones so far away--little specks of color, the only specks of color in the sky.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous laurajean said...

did you take photos?
you have digital camera?
take me photos!

12:40 PM  
Blogger KMM said...

No camera! China broke my camera, just like it broke my ipod.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

hey, how about an update man! i was just starting to get into the characters and everything, and then nothing for two months. are you dead? did the chinese govt finally catch you trying to smuggle prostitutes in from Thailand? i warned you about that.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Cyndi said...

Interesting to know.

1:32 PM  

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