I didn’t realize it at first but this place is packed full of it. What I had believed was fog early yesterday morning right after my arrival has been fully realized as smog. It’s not unheard of where I’m from but I have never seen it cloud my own eyes.
The very eyes I found useless in this adventure.
If there is one thing I did see, it is this, there is just simply too much. The city is bursting with too many sights, large buildings, people, markets, fish, cars, busses, more than I can process in a short amount of time and we’re too busy stuck to the ground to notice even half the things we encounter. Our vision doesn’t reach enough heights for us to fully take in our surroundings.
We are blind. We are easily distracted by colors, lights, people, skin tone to really feel the moment we’re in, to really take in our environment. Trying to talk about what I saw- trying to remember what I saw is pointless because I simply can’t. I do not have the capacity or the ability to even come close to process anything based on sight.
My sight is very flawed.
It’s like a movie montage, a drunken escape, a moment in time where you vaguely recall the scene but not enough to gather all the information of it. It leaves us with a hole in our memory and it isn’t worth it.
No, I couldn’t even begin to process the city in sight but I found my day guided in sound.
The sounds of the city are much more reliable. Not only is there a constant hum of activity but when you really focus you could pinpoint the exact absolute detail of the things you can’t see.
The metro station’s announcements – a woman’s voice that calmly tells you to mind the gap as you exit a train in three languages. The box that tumbles over as an old tan overworked man tries to gather his merchandise. The steps of high heels on the pavement as it clinks to a higher order. Poor men’s woes as they complain about work, people and family. The bus that drives by a little too closely to the street, roaring as it nearly misses a business man on the phone.
Sound is the only way to take in this city. It’s the only way to really understand where you are and where you’re going. Sound is the only real thing the only thing you can hold onto and remember in a city. Smells, sights, even touch, is too quickly gone but the sound, the music sticks with you. It rings in your ears long after it’s gone, and the constant hum of something different draws you into a new world.
Today I heard more than I could even begin to imagine. A million different languages mixed together from a million different world at a million different places, the crank of a wrench and a slam of a hammer as men in hardhats (and some not) attempt to fix the pavements of busy streets where young men laugh at poor ones.
I felt as if I could tell a person’s whole life story by listening to them go about their every days. I could pick out the poor from the rich, the helpful to the helpless, the greats from the slime and those who spent their days working from the ground up to find success. I could tell because I listened and I listened because I needed to hold onto something.
I can’t leave this place with just a few blurry pictures of lights and cars. I don’t want to see this place in my memories as a few landmarks and the festive color of red. I need to leave this place feeling like I was actually in it. I don’t want to be a tourist. I want to be a person. And the only way to make this place feel real is to listen to it because MUSIC, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory.