A Turtle-Dove amongst the Hieroglyphs - Georgi Grozdev
A Turtle-Dove amongst the Hieroglyphs
Shanghai is known as a world trade and economic center that has surpassed New York. The city has the deepest and busiest port in the world. It also has a population of 24 million, while writers number a mere 1500. In that respect, Bulgaria is way ahead of Shanghai.
The hotel is situated in a district which can be likened to Sofia’s Iztok one. Meters from the hotel lies Zhongshan Park that, in turn, resembles Borisova Gradina.
How do the regular Chinese men and women look? How do they spend their free time?
The park and the hotel are in immediate proximity to the metro. It has 12 lines. The metro stop itself, as well as many other things in China, does not fit our idea of a metro stop. It has seven exits, with hundreds of stores underground. It seems as if all of the stores I’ve seen in Sofia and the whole of Bulgaria have all been put here. There are people constantly walking around, looking for bargains, especially given the fact it is full of food chains and supermarkets. The nine-story mall outside the metro stop is also connected to the maze of stores.
One of the metro exits comes out right in front of the park entrance. Imagine my surprise when in the first evenings I witnessed more than 200 excited men and women of different ages dancing in the square in front of the park. I thought there was some holiday. That night, I think, I felt the spirit of Shanghai. They danced in pairs, only touching the tips of their fingers. Somewhat shy and very real. The melody was Chinese, playful and gentle. The steps – such steps I hadn’t seen before. The dance steps were like a cat’s, soft, from toes to heels, they were moving somehow sneakily and at the same time in perfect unison. Dozens and hundreds of people moved in pairs with determination and to a quick rhythm back and forth without colliding, without even touching. It was beautiful and exquisite. The steps seemed simple, the people incredibly flexible. Anyone from the street could join. A spot was found immediately. They didn’t think about the music, they became one with the music.
High above our heads, the tall bow-curved skyscraper shone with bright lights. These lights sprang from the bottom of it and in the shape of broken blue strips sprinted up to the top, where they converged as if in a deep lake and then rained back down on us. The surrounding buildings, 30-50-story high, were also alive with lights of different colors dancing on the edges of the balconies and the alien-spaceship-like rooftops.
The Shanghai night came to life and my heart leapt. I hadn’t even exchanged a single word with these happy, open and sociable people I was seeing for the first time. Despite the language barrier, contact with them is quick, easy and always accompanied by a smile, at least that’s my impression. Mimics and gestures help, and often there is someone speaking some English on the street to help you find your way.
A young mother really wanted to dance. Her baby left nearby started to move. With gestures we understood each other, and I rocked the baby while she danced. The baby, however, understood the trick and started crying. She took him in her arms and continued to dance on her own.
Will you believe me when I tell you that this merriment or aerobics is performed most regularly every night at the same time? Whereas every morning it’s full of people learning the rhythms from dancers more skilled than they are, so that they, too, would be able to join the festivities in the night.
Last morning, on the empty dancing floor (it was too early), I saw a beautiful rusty brown turtle-dove with checkered black and white coloring on its neck, the type we don’t have in our forests. There are no forests here and wild animals, just parks.
I often see some enthusiast with a jar of water and a long thin brush writing hieroglyphs on this same empty dance floor. Chinese people react only to hieroglyphs, there are several curious people around him staring down on the writings and reading carefully. Then the writings fade away. I don’t think I’ll be able to understand any time soon what the writing says and whether its meaning is meant for people like me.