I walked to work. For the first time in a long time I felt like I lived in Colombo. Unfortunately, living entails a lot of sweating. One really can’t do that much of it. Things are different, from street level. There’s a place that repairs electronics on my corner. There’s scum in the gutters and people sleeping on the street. One fellow had even hung a painting above his makeshift cot. The image looked strikingly like the wall paintings in the Lascaux caves. Walk a little further, there’s a temple, people selling fruit, vegetables, the latest tabloid magazines. I get my breakfast, turn the corner, trying to stick to the shady side of the street.
The razor wire in front of the police park is turned inwards now. So I suppose you can scale the fence and then get cut to shreds. At least its not out on the sidewalk anymore. My God it’s hot. Only half way there and I’m covered in sweat. Looks like I’m lactating in front and can only imagine the back. The thing that always strikes me about the street is that things are so much more interesting. There are so many more tailors and little shops with things I just might need. And there’s always food. Umbarella (Eh? Eh?), Mango, Guava – with chili and salt. Pastries, patties, rotis, vade, intravenous grease and starch. There’s so much on the street, and the cars just look so out of it.
I read somewhere that cities, oh yeah, Amazon. It was Emergence by Steven Johnson.
The value of the exchange between strangers lies in what it does for the superorganism of the city… The sidewalks exist to create the “complex order” of the city, not to make the citizens more well-rounded. Sidewalks work because they permit local interactions to create global order.
City life depends on the odd interaction between strangers that changes one individual’s behavior: the sudden swerve into the boutique you’ve never noticed before, or the decision to move out of the neighborhood after you pass the hundredth dot-com kid on a cell phone. There has to be feedback between agents, cells that change in response to the changes in other cells. At sixty-five miles an hour, the information transmitted between agents is too limited for such subtle interactions, just as it would be in the ant world if a worker ant suddenly began to hurtle across the desert floor at ten times the speed of her neighbors
That’s it. You don’t really live in a city unless you walk its streets. And it is lovely. For about 5 minutes. Then you start sweating. In 10 minutes its a leak, and 15 minutes the body is survival mode, just focused on keeping internal organs cooled. Your testicles descend as the temperature ascends, and that is why I’m keeping the car.