A Dragon Afternoon – I

July 21, 2009 § 44 Comments

Restaurants. Warehouses. Markets. Alleys.

Subway stations. Street vendors. Tea Houses.

Parks. Street Music.

Chinatown it seems, is always buzzing with activity. Not a breath to spare, no time to care.

Things were different during this visit. The Dragon ambled lazily on this particular Manhattan afternoon. No after-work or weekend crowds, not the usual touristy fare in sight.

People slithered along the streets slowly, cigarette breaks flourished on the sidewalks, traffic thinned in the main streets and lilting flute music wafted through the air. Loners hung around pillars and posts, old ladies played checkers in the park with their umbrellas dangling up in their hands; and quiet alleys shone with shifting light and shadows.

Chinatown on Monday afternoons? It spills out leisurely, albeit a bit crankily, like an old movie reel from your grandpa’s attic.

And the images? They aggregate in clusters, in little strings of moods, like mouthfuls of red wine.

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No, I did not miss being pushed around by marauding crowds on the pavements, nor did I miss the loud haggling by the vending stands. Nor the honking cabs and the traffic jams. Even the Subway sidewalks seemed desolate in comparison to the otherwise busy evenings and weekends.

It was as if I had discovered the Dragon’s weakness … the Monday afternoon sun had scratched it’s furry belly tenderly and tempered the fire seething inside. And now the Dragon rolled over on the streets, slowly, eager to please.

Not often have I wandered through this part of the city, and lingered on the streets so. Needless to say, I felt quite gratified. The Second Part to this post attempts to take another tentative step, closer to the people of Chinatown. On an afternoon they nodded and smiled.

And I can’t wait to say hello.

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