Friday, 26 September 2008

What I Never Did In London

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, I guess I've oriented myself pretty well so far, though I’ve seen just a fraction of the city. Buenos Aires is huge, London huge, huge that’s hard to convey. Travelling alone is good for my geography. In London I’ve always been the sheep, deferring to the better knowledge of friends that live there. Here I am forced into being attentive, present. I have acquired that obsessive curiousity towards bus routes that I recognise in friends living in London. 

I think Borges would have enjoyed the modern Buenos Aires bus system and its accompanying 400 page guide which, nevertheless, fails to tell you exactly where a single bus stop actually is. perhaps conversely I see a little of his inspiration - that, buses or not, it was always such.

Streets in blocks disorientate by their very consistency and regularity of form. My familiarity with the street name Av. Cordoba is displaced by its very length which stretches right a across the city – am I east or west edge of Av. Cordoba? Or is it north to south? (Where is my compass? Is North 'North' south of the equator or is the magnetism reversed?) The street numbers run into fives, tens of thousands, junctions seem to replicate each other; the kiosk close to the hostel has its twin two blocks north on a street with the ostensibly the same architectural features…..

And the architecture is crazy - haphazard. Old, new, two floor porteno, derelict, modern, classical – blue, white, sepia, seina, red, grey – faded, worn, new, shiny, fucked up - the same block…. Some kind of faded grandeur or half of it perhaps, a nearly grandeur – slum grandeur. The air is not clean; I swear can feel the pollution hitting the back of my throat, a sense of being short of air, sneezing a lot. Traffic, noise, life - lots of life.

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