Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Morning Parade of Faces

Since we're living in the city in a serviced apartment, my commute to work is along city streets (and not too many of them since we're so close) and past a lot of busy city people also walking to work.

When walking on a crowded sidewalk, you stay left---not right. In NZ they drive on the left, and the "keep left" mentality carries over to pedestrian traffic too. In fact, if you're walking straight towards someone who's also walking straight towards you and it's clear you'll need to step to the side to pass each other, the other person will step to his left---your right. This was unexpected the first time it happened to me, as I stepped (naturally) to my right and ended up doing a bit of a back-and-forth dance with the man which ended in apologies on both ends before going about our business.

I've been meaning to take a picture on Willis St. on a crowded sidewalk to post here, but haven't ever had my camera during busy sidewalk times so I took this picture I found on Google and flipped it (you can see "Taxi" reads as "ixaT" on the sign) to demonstrate sidewalk direction in Wellington.

I love my morning walk. I love the parade of faces going by on the right. These faces aren't the kinds of faces that I'm accustomed to seeing on the sidewalks. The shapes and colors and styles and adornments are fascinating and slightly exotic.

These are city folk. Many are gussied up for a day of Big Business in their dark suits, clacking heels and white collared shirts. Much of the hair is close-cropped and tidy. Younger men's faces have short hair spiked straight up with beauticians' chemicals or smoothed to a ridge along the middle of the head like the dorsal fin of a fish. Older mens' hair lines sport widow's peaks more often than not.

But sprinkled in with all of the business-attired are the various and sundry. And they vary a lot. I see earthy hirsute men AND women with hair in dreadlocks and tied up in the back into a bunch marching past me. There are youngish men and women in black clothes, pierced and dyed and buckle-strapped into leatherwear heeling it down the thoroughfare. There are doughy middle aged guys in T shirts and jeans like me. You could say the same thing about the morning crowd on the streets of San Francisco, actually, and you'd be spot-on there too.

But somehow these faces are different. The features are different, the colors are different, the hair and hems and heights and drapes and dresses and d├ęcolletages are notably different.

And every morning it's fascinating to walk past all of these faces and be bombarded with these images as my brain is still slowly grinding into gear.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I know exactly what you mean! we had the same experience ourselves...it was quite a shock at first...now I've got the 'kiwi look' firmly imprinted in my brain..some look so terribly british, others exotic and native...and then of course there's the ubiquitous tatoos! Might just have to get one myself!