We say Chinatown and we think: a frenzy of activity.
One must always go to Chinatown on full alert. We are ready to be pushed and shoved by the crowds determined to score the best bargains. We come prepared to say no to persistent hawkers egging us to buy fresh mangosteens and other expensive exotic fruits that pull the heartstrings of every immigrant pining for a taste of the old country. We must be properly rested for the sheer onslaught of sensory overload.
But surely Chinatown, too, has moments of peace and quiet contemplation.
It does, we find out—at dawn, when most of us are still lucky enough to be snug in our beds.
Dawn is that sliver of time when Chinatown’s denizens can read the day’s news, carefully sweep the previous day’s detritus, sip a cup of tea, ponder the meaning of life, water the plants, say hello to neighbours and not have to think (just yet) about the endless dim sum to prepare, the cups after cups of rice that have to be scooped for the hungry masses, the strings of noodles to be stretched, pulled, boiled or fried, the endless questions to be answered from curious tightwads…the never-ending, repetitive, sometimes desultory work to be done.
It is that precious time when fresh bananas, mangoes, bok choy, limes, chives, broccoli, eggplants, oranges and scallions are unloaded from crates, and one can be an artist who masterfully piles produce into mini temples for throngs of shoppers to admire. “Just look, don’t touch,” then becomes the robotic line that the poor, hapless vendor, assigned to watch over the produce, must say several times a day, every single day of the year.
Full photo essay: http://theorigami.ca/2013/10/25/a-chinatown-state-of-mind/