China Chinwag [Tianjin travelogue by the Infected One, 6]


tianjin24

Then he moves down two or three floors to a section for outdoor gear. The first stalls present him with the familiar Columbia and North Face brands and he sees some really fancy jackets which he places on a mental list to be returned to. He wonders why people want to look fancy even in winter, after all it is way too cold for anybody to be paying attention to anything but their own survival of whatever brief time span they spend between front door and bus door, cafe exit and mall entry, car park and office maw, etc. But yet so nevertheless the poison and fir green Arctic exploration jacket makes a serious impression on the Infected One: that’s his color, green.
He moves down the semi-circular pathway along which the different outdoor shoplets are arranged, now and again shadowed but getting quickly used to it, realizing that there are another five or six specifically Chinese brands that are more affordable and similarly eye-catching. He is puzzled as to why these brands do not get exported across the stupendous continental plate to the shops in his homeland….too unfamiliar for the consumer to consider? Too saturated markets? Too or not enough what exactly?
Despite the hypnotic scents at ground level the Infected One manages finally to leave the store, having bought precisely nothing but cycling a number of cool articles before his inner eye. He mans up for the next adventurous task of the day: crossing the main street. There are traffic lights, which for the pedestrians are big, skinny rectangles of dozens of diods like….
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOO
…One rectangle green the other red. This is a pretty ingenious solution because it allows you to display other stuff, e.g. A walking figure, a standing still figure, a clock counting down time row after row, etc. However, they come with limited liability.
In addition to the lights there are also traffic cops. Most motorized traffic respects the lights but along the fringes some scooters and bikes slip the general rule. The Infected One is not exactly excited about crossing a major traffic intersection, it seems to him that he simply does not have enough eyes or cannot move his head quickly enough (left, right, left, right, left, right, etc.) to keep from being run over. He feels like that figure in the Jose Luis Borges story that fears all his life he will be killed by a car and then in the end is flipping run over by an auto. The only safe thing he can think of doing is getting himself in the middle of all the local, streetwise Tianjin pedestrians, right in the centre as they cross the street so that in case there is some madcap lorry barreling down these roads, the others will form a kind of human protective shield around him. The Infected One does this once or twice but eventually gains street savvy, gets enough of a viral load of traffic knowledge to realize that the real threat to be dealt with are not the crazy things his brains keeps imagining about the traffic in question. That he might be run over by his own imagination, a 24’000-wheeled monster truck if ever there was one.
The next shopping palace is a different matter. The Infected One scrapes the inside of his mind or memory for the right word, which comes loose with a pop: Bazaar! Thousands of little stores one right next to the other, whose wares are often rather hard to differentiate. On the upper-most floors towards the back of the building, in the maze of individual stalls there are certain sales folk bored to within inches of death: head flat on the counter, cellphone clenched to the ear, mumbling to the wooden counter top.
The Infected One has some thinking to do: wasn’t having one’s own space, one’s own store supposed to de-alienate one from one’s labor? Not in all circumstances is the evidence he is being presented with. Then again, it’s a weekday and business can not exactly be described as brisk and who is he to try to estimate sales people’s state of soul anyway? They might be having a good time on the phone or just chatting it up with the person from the next stall, chinwagging it.

 

[mos def’ to be continued xD ]

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About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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