There is a walking underpass at the street between our home and office. Every day on my way to work I descend the stairs uncertain of what awaits me at the bottom. Sometimes this underground walk way is nothing but an empty corridor where the click of my boots seems to vibrate off the walls, at other times is a lively market place, is packed with vendors. There are the women selling table clothes, earrings, and compact mirrors and the men with their DVD, religious books and packs of kleenexes. Some of them have their little songs to try to attract customers, like the guy selling toy birds who calls out “they don’t need food, they don’t need water, they just bring you fun” . I hardly ever buy anything as I pass by ( I guess I have gotten a few pairs of socks and a hair clip), but I love the energy of the crowd, and the challenge of getting through without stepping on anyone’s stuff.
Since none of them actually have vendor permits, every couple of hours the police take a lap under the street and force them to “close up shop” so to speak. This literally involves picking up the four corners of the blanket their merchandise is being displayed on, tossing it over their back like Santa’s sac, while they dash up the stairs and try to blend in with the crowd. If you happen to walk that same stretch just moments after a police flush out, it is an empty cavernous hallway.
So why is this important enough to have a blog post written about it… because I was caught earlier this week in the stampede of ‘stores’ and their owners on the move. It was kind of scary , all the men in blue came down the stairs at one end of the tunnel and all of those hocking their wares made a mad dash towards the other end. My foot got squished in the process of trying to press myself tightly against the wall to get out of the way. My toes will heal, but I will be a little leery about heading down there if the police seem to be walking that way too.