Published: May 11th 2012May 11th 2012
Walking the streets
I walked them everyday during my time in Dawukou!
R. Draeger Jr.
Have you ever seen a tapestry? Normally they can be found in castles throughout Europe. In these places tapestries have two purposes. The first is to keep the castle warm, which is not easy when they are mostly made of stone. Speaking of stone, it is not very pleasing to the eye, (unless you study them for a living) and so the second purpose of the tapestries is to give the resident of the castle something pleasant to look at. Okay, there are tapestries which also tell of stories past, but for this newsletter we’ll just overlook that aspect.
I know what you are asking your self now, “What exactly do tapestries have to do with China?” or “What is up with the mention of castles in Europe?” China is not a castle nor is Dawukou in Europe. Even after a small glance of this city, however, I think that you appreciate the tapestry that is Dawukou. Right now I am on my way to the Ningxia Institute, so if you want to view a small portion of this masterpiece, read on!
This city, even a small part of it, is a feast not only for the eyes but the ears and nose as well. The journey from my apartment to my school is only a few ‘Chinese’ blocks apart. While a block in an American city is small in Dawukou they are bigger. Remember for a moment that China is slightly bigger than the United States.
On a normal day when I am going to school a myriad of sights, sounds and smells are waiting to be sensed. At the gate of my community, for example, are a number of businesses where one can rent a DVD or go to the convenience store to buy Oreos and milk. It is an open area, the entrance to my community, filled with taxis and people coming in and out of the gate. The street that my community is located on is rather small, about the width of any normal street in America. However, there are no lines and it is survival of the ever vigilant!
On the other side of this noisy street, by the gate of my community, are trees, green grass and more apartments which badly need a paint job. Heading east down this street are restaurants where the food is delicious and the smell is enticing. However, I am on a mission to get to school so the smell will have to do. Most people at these restaurants are eating outside before going to work or school. Continuing east there are more apartments on my right which need paint jobs as well. On the left are even more restaurants, and a market which runs from nine am until I don’t know when.
In the morning, however, the market lies on the sidewalk that I am on. At this point the sidewalk, which is an obstacle in and of it self, becomes very crowded. I have no choice but to hit the street to pass this market place. On this street these markets, filled with people, enticing fruits and vegetables, give life to this otherwise quiet part of the city, which I can am learning to call home for the next few months.
A note about the streets; one essentially needs eyes on all sides of the head to survive. Mopeds, cars, SUV’s, bicycles, and other forms of transportation come from both directions, and not necessarily on the proper side, because cars will pass other cars who are going too slowly. The street that I have just crossed, and come to the end of, is full of wonderful sights filled with people, young and old, stores on both sides will forever fill my memory. It is rather easy, I think, for people to take such sights for granted or disdain because they would rather be in America. Perhaps it is easier to learn what one can from different places the more one travels.
The next street we will walk down is not as full of life as the previous one, but the sights certainly are pleasant to the eye. This street is huge and is one of the ‘main’ streets of Dawukou. On this day we will head north towards my school. This street has four lanes for motorized traffic and two lanes for bicycles. These are separated by raised flower beds, although with fall coming soon the flowers may not last long.
The most impressive view is that of the mountain which lies beyond city limits. During the October break, I’ll be climbing that mountain. Okay, come back now. We’re still on the way to my school! The most impressive building, which lies on the right side of the street, is the electric company. It is big and white has many windows like mirrors, and two pointy things at the top. It does not even lay parallel with the street, but one side is closer than the other. This street is also full of trees on both sides which are beginning to show signs that summer is nearly over. (And will be on Sept 21 or 22).
On the left side of the street, where I walk, there are sights which can either impress the view or give rise to American notions such as, “This needs to be cleaned up”. Remember from the last newsletter that this is China!
As we near my school there is a smaller one on the way where the gate keepers will say ‘Ni Hao’ to a foreigner such as me. I don’t think it is a rival school. There is also a church, which is very full on Sundays, down the street. This street, while full of green trees and grass, is not as lively as the smaller street. But that is alright because it gives a person time to pause and think about this wonderful city.
One more street to cross and then we will be at my school. This street is huge, which intersects the one I’ve been walking along. I have not had to run- yet. After crossing this street we come very close to my school. Out of breath yet? Good! Only a few more steps and we’ll be at my school. Navigating through the trees, pedestrians, and sometimes going on the street are the final challenges that await us. As we come to my school, there is another opening, similar to the one at the gate of my community.
At the gates of the Ningxia Institute of Science and Technology is where we must part. Some day I will give you a tour of my campus and let you sit in on one of my classes.