See your city through different eyes

To really know your city or town you need to see it at different hours on different days. The cycle of time brings an ebb and flow of people like tides bringing different creatures to the shore.Leichhardt, Thursday 9.30am: The snowy haired and slow of pace are appearing, slightly bent, as if from hidden vaults and joining them are the black clad widow, Greek or more likely Italian, and the olive-skinned, lively, older man with chirpy Italian accent. It’s pension day and the army of aged descend on the banks, saving book in hand, heading for the more-than-any-other-time-of-the week tellers who are well prepared for a chat and withdrawal. “How are you today?” asks a carefully deployed employee in the body of the bank. “I’m good now,” says the small Italian man, as he pats his now funded pocket. “It’s ok for those down in Can-berr-ah, but its tough for us,” he says knowingly but finishes with a laugh and a flourish of his tanned arms.

Parramatta Rd, Friday 6am: A special little peak hour for tradies, fruiterers and small business people unfolds on this road once called The Way. The lanes abound with white vans, one tonne trucks, utes with PVC pipes and fruit trucks burgeoning with product. Garbage trucks grab attention with their yawning rear ends. Young men with short hair and healthy looks speed through the traffic and harrowed looking plumbers pull over for an early flat white at Norton St’s sports bar. All gone by 6.45am as if they were a mist of gyprock dust.

Norton St, Saturday night: Starry eyed couples stroll among the Italian restaurants, him in his best jeans and most sincere look, her in a what-is-she-not-wearing dress and flowing hair. They pass the short-haired, older couple with crumpled faces who look like each other and still believe in a good meal and a bottle of wine and each other. There’s a hens party in Mythos, obligatory dancing on the tables and many gawks through the window. The young and the well fed dodge the art-house-cinema-pseudo-intellectuals who bustle along importantly, in heady conversation. Around the corner The Bald Face Stag faces off with The Clarence. Indie band groupies linger in cigarette smoke outside the Stag while tall transvestite chatting with bald man in leather chaps with bare bottom linger in cigarette smoke outside The Clarence’s OutBar.

Anywhere, Sunday morning 9.30am: Imagine… front doors opening and people rambling along the path, some in Sunday best, others in just slept in, a wave and a smile, strollers galore and a Bible or two and the streets throng with people happily converging on their local… church or cathedral or hall with the wafting sound of worship already filling the air and faith and hope and love beating a path for the redeemed. The Italian momma is there and the long-haired lover and modestly dressed man, bottom covered, and while they don’t all end up in the same building, they hear the same Voice and they know they are family. PH

2 thoughts on “See your city through different eyes

  1. I once about 6 years ago had a vision of an epidemic of loneliness. A middle aged woman sitting all alone in her small apartment, in an armchair, phone on side table. She’s staring at the silent phone crying out to a God she doesn’t even know saying “if you’re out there send someone, anyone, please… I’m so desperatly lonely”.
    In response to that vision my wife and I started a community services centre – now known as the People Builders Centre – we lease what was an old nightclub under the Panthers Club in Port Macquarie. I look at the many women who come for food parcels, counsel, a free lunch or to a workshop or support group or just for a cuppa and chat. I wonder which of them cried out that prayer from their lonely armchair? Maybe it was all of them.
    Sometimes when we hear the cry we just need to respond with simple compassion and do SOMETHING. Never despise small beginnings.

    Jeff Atherton (People Builders Australia)

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