Today, the sun hung like a bright bronze penny in the sky. Through the smog it wasn’t painful to look at in the slightest, and I stared at it for nearly a minute, marvelling at its perfect roundness. I turned right and walked through a gap in a hedge in to what here passes for a park, though I’d consider it more of a downmarket ornamental garden. A paved path snaked here and there along the length of the garden, populated with a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees, the ground a threadbare carpet of drought resistant but decidedly ugly Chinese grass; with silver barked trees scattered here and there. Less graceful than their slender English counterparts, but graceful enough against a backdrop of high rises, bendy buses, lorries, cars and smog. The coniferous trees were a little hunchbacked, with branches that twisted at confusing angles and hedgehog like bundles of spikey leaves sprouting at various points along their length.
I wandered along the path, a grizzled Scottie snuffled in the mud to my left, and an effeminate Poodle pranced not to far behind. There were several benches strategically placed under the generous canopy of a large tree. On one of the benches, was an oldish man in scrappy traditional clothes, listening with ill disguised affected interest to the witterings of the much younger girl that sat beside him. On a more secluded bench sat a girl, with a boy perched beside her, his head on her shoulder, and his fingers gently dancing up and down her thigh, but she seemed less interested in him, and looked almost as though she were waiting for a bus. Old women sat in twos, clutching heart shaped bamboo fans in their hands, which they occasionally flapped at their faces in a rather resigned manner. Their conversation, sedate and unanimated, was as likely to be about the expected arrival of Godot as anything else.
Out of the park and further along the road were a bundle of shops all selling longevity clothes for those who had just snuffed it. Upon seeing me walking past, a girl came out of a massage parlour which was illuminated by a garish pink light, as though she were about to invite me in for a foot rub, but almost as soon as she got up, an anxious look crossed over her face, as she must have suddenly realized that she couldn’t speak English, and just as swiftly returned to her stool. Sat on the low wall set against the pavement, in front of the coffin sellers, were many elderly men and women, with the more energetic ones gently walking up and down the street in a slow yet determined manner.
A woman, in her early thirties maybe, glided past on an electric bike on her way back home; and behind her, going at a slower pace and wobbling slightly, was a teenage boy riding a heavy iron postman’s bicycle, with a fresh faced girl holding on to his T-shirt sitting behind him, her feet gently swaying and occasionally knocking together as the bike glided across the slightly uneven road. The monotonous song of the crickets hiding in the bushes almost completely drowned out by the rumbling traffic; and the sun, more ochre now and part smothered by rush hour smog, was fading from view.