Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just an ordinary day

It rained really hard today. When I awoke in the 6:00 am semi-darkness, great sheets of wind-blown water were rattling the windows, creating the impression of a Highveld thunderstorm without so much as a glimmer or lightning. I wrapped myself up in my beautiful red velvety dressing gown, and enjoyed the lack of traffic noise. The city might have been washed away in the night for all the sound it made. By the time I left for class, mid-afternoon, the deluge had slowed to a soaking shower that swelled the roadside mini-waterways to ankle-deep streamlets that washed away the brown and yellow autumn leaves that have made New York glow for the past few weeks. The cloud-cover had raised the outside temperature significantly by trapping the rising heat generated by 8 million living bodies, and so I wasn’t weighed down by the necessary layers of clothing and paraphenalia of a colder climate. It made for a really lovely day. Under other circumstances, I may have found the spectacle of a huge truck taking 15 minutes to extract itself from a driveway in a narrow street, while my bus waited in a rapidly lengthening queue of hooter-honking vehicles whose path was blocked by the hissing, bucking monstrosity, less amusing. Today, however, it provoked great hilarity. Have you ever noticed how the biggest truck bounces like one of those coin-operated child’s rides you occasionally get in shopping centres and similar public spaces, when the driver attempts any sort of delecate manouvre? Just like those piston-mounted toys, it expends great amounts of energy moving essentially nowhere. Or perhaps that isn’t entirely true. The driver did, to my amazement and admiration, finally succeed in extracting himself from the awkward space created by a narrow driveway and a narrow street further compacted by parked SUVs along both pavements, and an impatient taxi whose driver had attempted to squeeze through the two inches between the bumper of the truck and the left front door of the SUV behind which I was standing. Driving in New York City takes a particular level of courage that I simply don’t have.

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