Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Porteno Street Life

As I walk around this city I'm assailed by sights and sounds that both repel and seduce ....

Yesterday I walked by the street lady who sits at her usually stoop on busy Santa Fe. I've walked by her three times now, and am always affected by her wrinkly old doll face topped by curls and her little dog who never takes his eyes off her. I didn't realize she was a beggar until now. There's a bowl beside her but I can't figure out if it's for money or do I see water in there for the dog? Instead, I press a five peso note into her hand and she smiles and the dog lets me give him a pet.

Dogs are everywhere ... yesterday there was even a dog down in the subway, seemingly waiting for a train. Everytime one whooshed up and stopped, he started barking madly ... running up and down to each door, looking for someone. It was concerning. Did he follow his master to the trains without the owner knowing. Or did this occur everyday ... the dog sneaking through the turnstile to greet his master's return at a certain hour?

The other night a derelict man hovered on a step in a dark door way. He had a sandwich and was gnawing on it like an animal. He couldn't sit upright. It touched me deeply ... I'm not a religious person but in his humanity I saw God.

The people who collect cardboard from the garbage--and there are thousands combing every neighborhood--are hardworking souls. They sell the cardboard to recyclers and I'm sure they earn just enough to eat. They hand-pull huge carts piled high with the stuff and sometimes the families have their babies with them. How awful to have to go through garbage while people walk by ignoring you.

I suppose I should end with something pleasant ... maybe the fun of petting the cats in the Botanical Gardens? All sizes, all shapes, all colors, family tableaus of cat families with mom and dad grooming their kittens. Cats on benches, cats on statues, cats sleeping under exotic fauna. Which one would I choose to take home if I could?

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