When we lived in Turkey we lived on the outskirts of a bustling metroplex. From our balcony we looked across hills to a valley and pond. The university where Tim taught had a goal to plant a million trees on its campus. Over the years we watched them grow upon the hillside. Maybe I expected some of the same serenity and solitude in our Chinese home. Not so here.
Daily, hundreds of people pass outside our building’s wall. They walk, ride bikes or scooters, take buses or taxis or drive cars. Our street is noisy with peoples’ chatter, and there are pleasant smells of pork sizzling and of sauces cooking. Occasionally there are unpleasant smells. Every few feet there is a different shop — restaurants, window makers, dress shops, a copy machine store, a clock shop, shoe shops, lingerie shops, shops for produce, tea, grains & nuts, groceries of various small sizes, places selling sodas and cigarettes. Shoe repairmen set up shop on stools on the sidewalk.
From our kitchen sink, I watch the family who every morning unload a huge quantity of bananas to resell.
In another family the husband makes windows. Their daughter is preschool age. They cook their lunch in the garage where he works.
The man on the bicycle cart recycles boxes.
I found myself singing a line from a love song in the movie “My Fair Lady.” It says, “on the street where you live.” I couldn’t remember the rest of the words so looked them up. Here are some of them,
“… Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour Out of ev’ry door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live!
…. People stop and stare. They don’t bother me.
For there’s no where else on earth that I would rather be.
…. on the street where you live.”
I’m not in love with the street, but I am intrigued by its life.