18 Feb 2013

Sunday is just another day of work

On last Monday's entry I quietly hid something: I got lost. My plan was to walk along the canal all the way back home, passing a few neighborhoods that I hadn't visited before, and, while I enjoyed the walk, I couldn't accomplish what I intended due to one main factor: at one point in my walk, the alleyway literally disappeared under my feet, crumbled into the waters. It was not a long gap, I could perfectly see the continuation of the pavement a few meters ahead, but it was more than I could cover by a risky jump, so I had no choice but to retrace until I found a small soi leading back to town. My idea was to advance inside the narrow street and return to the canal as soon as I could. But I just couldn't find a way back, and the winding back alleys forced me to go deeper and deeper, so the rest of my walk was done in inner lands. That's why today, determined to finish what I had planned last time, I went back there and started my walk right in the spot where the alleyway on the bank of the canal resumed after the gap.

Imprisoned garbage, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Every bridge is like a coin: it has invariably 2 sides. The upper part is exposed and bright, populated by pedestrians, vehicles, and asphalt, while underneath is hidden, silent and dark. But not deserted, as the promise of unexpected things always lurks in those low passages, always so near, yet so invisible and unknown for most of us. They are something like the magical threshold into a fantasy world from the fairytales, the entrance to a mysterious realm, where the rules of life and survival are different.

Threshold, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Trying to escape from the chaos of the city, I entered a space where it doesn't matter what day of the week the calendar indicates, for the flow of life goes on, uninterrupted, following a daily routine that spins without end. The underworld is full of workers with barely time to rest, that is for sure, taking short breaks to resume their labour as soon as they can, tireless laborers that erect the city yet have no place in it to stay.

Short break, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Water and fire, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Covered with clothes from top to bottom, working in small groups on the edge of precarious platforms with the only safety of their own skill, the dwellers of the canal banks have dark skin and deep black eyes, they come from distant lands yet rarely have the chance to go back. They work hard. But they also smile, and they will always pause for a second, to let the people pass.

Never too young, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Rootless, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

But they are not the only residents, as other people populate these lanes as well, here and there, busy with their own particular businesses. Nobody idle, nobody unoccupied, Sundays are just another day of work here, and as such, everyone is working. Perhaps the word work has a different meaning in a place like this. Or perhaps we have distorted it, in the first place.

The painter, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

As I went on wandering around for a couple of kilometers, I reached a secondary canal that discharged its waters in the one I was exploring. I was supposed to continue straight ahead, according to my original plan, but the smaller canal seemed to lead to a quieter, more secluded neighborhood, and the opportunity of discovering something new was too strong to resist. I sidetracked, then, and entered that little community.

Open house, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

The waters were so thick that seldom moved, but people had got used to live on its sides, and the whole settlement rested on both banks, as close to the liquid as can be imagined, with very limited space to grow, yet full of life, present and past: nothing is a waste here, everything has its purpose and its function, the concept of rubbish is unconceivable, every single tool and object, no matter how deteriorated it might be, will eventually be needed. Therefore its imperative to keep it.

Store room, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sometimes beauty shows up in the most unexpected of places, unclouded and transparent, counteracting debris and ruins, decay and unhealthiness: in a kid's creative hands, a rotten cart becomes a carriage.

Locked, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

The village was very small, so soon I returned to the main canal. Not long after that, I past under the massive highway that flew over my head casting large shadows over the ground below. And again I learned one more lesson on how different the meaning of everything is in this parallel world, for the vast shadow area below the road was not the dangerous, ominous place one would have expected, but quite the opposite: the perfect place for a playground, safe from the burning, tropical sun.

Playground, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Undergrounds, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

But, as it always happens in the fantasy realm, it comes the time to wake up from the dream, and go back to reality. In my case, that return had the shape of a flight of grey stairs: I climbed them to overcome a momentary absence of lane, and suddenly I was beaten by the roar of loud traffic around me. There was not turning back; as much as I wanted, the gate had been closed behind me and I was there, standing in the middle of a hectic bridge, facing a common facade, trying to assume the change.

Urban welcome, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

I hastened: now that I was back on this side of the bridge, I wanted to hurry back home; suddenly I felt tired, exhausted, as if I had been walking far longer than I even remembered, and the noise and smoke surrounding me irritated my ears tremendously. But as I was heading home, I was forced to stop one last time: the barrier was lowering, and a rattling train was approaching, making fun of me.

Train approaching, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Train passing, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

As soon as the barrier was lifted, I continued my fast walk, unconcerned about the environment. But just then, when I was about to turn the last corner to abandon the main road and approach my home, something caught my attention. It was just a second, but it struck me sharply, leaving me in awe: some of the dwellers of the underworld, masked under their hoods, had crossed the threshold and entered our world, going somewhere I'm still struggling to find out.

The journey, Lumix GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

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