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Scenes from the Streets

Guangzhou is a city made up of confused centuries. The smoggy sky coughs on a nineteenth century sickness; while the highways and Wifi trick me into thinking it is the twenty-first. Incredible skyscrapers look like rocket ships firing into the future. Meanwhile, the populace, having flooded in from villages and small towns of yesterdays, are addicted to their smart phones, eyes glued into bright submission. You can best see the above on the streets, so I want to describe, in no particular order, some of the more arresting scenes.

Not Vermin

They are on every residential roadside but they are transparent. The street-side recyclers, nibbling away at the debris we spew out our concrete termite mounds. They spend the early evening hours in the gutters with their towers of junk: mountains of polystyrene, tectonic layers of cardboard, waves of plastics puking over seas of dustbin detritus and dusty, torn clothing; a plastic wicker chair striped tendon by tendon; a computer frame snapped into components, wires ripped of their plastic clothing. They bind up bundles heaps heavier than they are onto the back of electric tricycles defying laws of balance and gravity, and cycle of into the night.

Sunday afternoon Outside Starbucks

Lots of beeping. Two expensive, imported cars are parked in lane of traffic at an odd angle. The drivers are by one car, on smartphones, oddly calm. People are standing on the pavement taking pictures. There is a man on the ground, and a bike beside him with a painfully bent wheel. The man is holding his head and rocks slowly, dazed. What shocks us is that no one helps. They look, take pictures, stare and stay static. Two people walk by and laugh. Again, pictures are taken. No one helps. I'm MJF, this is Guangzhou and that's 303 words.

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