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Streets Scenes II

Welcome fellow InterNations Expats to my regular slot in which I will be sharing with you my experiences and learnings from living in China’s third largest city, Guangzhou.

This is a second part of my attempt to convey all the small, beautiful and shocking scenes on the streets of Guangzhou.

Street Homework

I am looking out of the bus window on my way home. Two Chinese boys in school uniform - blue trousers, white tops with blue piping - are doing their homework on a pavement table with their mother. They are outside their mother’s small shop. The boys stop to talk, point, distract each other. Their mother taps the paper and the boys focus again. I sit in traffic and watch for a few minutes as the boys chew thoughts and slowly write.

Five Stars

Opposite the 5 star Garden Hotel there is a man lying on the ground, limbs like skewered steak, beating the ground with his fists as people walk by. Shocked tourists stare. Above beat the wings of bats, the blinking dark wings of bats circling in black holes around the man looking for an early meal of dead sky and stars that cannot be seen.

Screaming so Loud

A woman is praying, kneeling, spilling her fat, deformed face out to the floor, the pained smile stretched out around the molten distortion. You can hear her screaming so loud the trains can’t compete, but still everyone walks past unhearing. We are horrified and wonder if she has spent her whole life falling to the floor, being ignored and walked by.

Fluttering Down

It falls so slowly, changing directions as if guided by a curious insect mind, I watch in wonderment its curving course, the flap of papery wings: A butterfly in this forest of cream and grey and dust-stained concrete. But it is a scrap of paper dropped from a cloudy window, probably on purpose.

I'm MJF, this is Guangzhou and that's 303 words.


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