Multiversal Musing — Deborah Harmes, Ph.D.

Social Commentary, Random Snippets of Consciousness Studies, and Bits of Personal Reflection

Cheek By Jowl Living

Posted on | December 22, 2010 | No Comments

Intensively close living — something I haven’t experienced for about 16 years since I left London in early 1995. And yes, I had forgotten about the constant background noise. But after two or three days here, I no longer noticed it and my brain ignored it all.

That surprised me rather a lot since we have been living in the rural countryside for quite a few years and an extra-noisy bird or the grunting of a wombat could bring me to a state of full wakefulness. Now I find that I am sleeping through buses roaring by on the street outside, screeching parrots and kookaburras in the trees, and low flying jets as those winged-whales scoop up or disperse their passengers at Sydney’s waterside airport.

What I do still notice is the volume of people on the pavement as you try to get from point A to point B, the sheer numbers jostling you in the grocery store, the purposeful faces as you cross at a corner and are smooshed by your fellow pedestrians whilst trying to get back onto the pavement before the light changes to red, the length of the lines snaking outward at the take-away coffee windows at each cafe.

And the smells! We are currently staying in the 8th floor apartment of a dear friend who is out of town for the holidays. Every time one of the neighbours sautes some garlic, grills a steak on the balcony, or simmers pasta sauce, the smell wafts upward and in through the open balcony doors and those smells mix and mingle with whatever we happen to be cooking. It does tend to scramble your brain a bit.

What is completely joyous (aside from the up-the-hills and down-the-hills huffing and puffing that I am still experiencing in my body!) is the availability of change. Whether it be scenery as you move from single-story federation cottages on one street to looming high-rise commercial buildings on the next block or the seamless transition from a residential neighbourhood to a shopping cluster, it’s all here.

We walked up a series of hills yesterday that were so steep that they required steps to be cut into the hillside at several points to allow you to transition through the neighbourhood. I found it a bit startling to emerge from quiet of the dense trees onto a pavement alongside a roaringly loud and busy highway that leads into the Sydney Harbour tunnel. Serious brain spin!

But a few more minutes of walking across that highway’s overpass and we entered an inner city area that was filled with lovely shops, block after block of cafes, and we accidentally discovered a wonderful full-sized mall beneath the busy streets when Mark noticed people descending from the street via an escalator. We were simply curious about where they were all going and we followed them. Less than a minute later, we emerged into a very busy mall complete with upscale shops on multiple levels, lots of cafes, multiple food courts, a full-sized grocery store, a post-office, and quite a few butchers, health food stores, bakeries, and fishmongers. Fascinating to see all of that activity efficiently humming away right beneath the feet of the office workers above.

Now — time for the former city-dweller turned country-mouse turned city-dweller to get out and about for today’s adventures and explorations.

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