Up High

When I lived in Paris, I sat in little pavement cafés – un flâneur – a strolling watcher. Here, up high – the traffic is lighter, the people politer but, they come and they go…

From my balcony, the world passes.

Early morning. Dark skinned ladies dressed in bright green sweep the streets with old-fashioned straw brooms, grimly picking up the detritus of the night, spent cigarettes, wrappers, leaves and whatever has been abandoned from clandestine assignations in the little park opposite.

Later,  large women fed on a diet rich in fat, carrying heavy bags of shopping, ignore the pedestrian crossings and march on sturdy shoes across the roads – the cars mostly stop to let them pass. Young girls from the art school twitter like starlings, emulating their avian sisters who wheel and scream overhead like fighter pilots, curving so close to the building I can hear the rush of air.

Gym-buff boys in Nike T shirts swagger arrogantly, eyeing up the Russian girls with their baby blue eyes.

The old man with the shopping trolley – his lameness clearly visible, peers myopically, trying to get himself and his meagre possessions to wherever he takes his afternoon nap. The fat gipsy woman, eyes vacant but wearing a clean white skirt, sits in the shade, clutching coffee, accepting a few coins.

A wedding party, men stiff in suits and bow ties, the women in gloriously flowered dresses, bedecked with gold, spill out on to the sidewalk from the pretty church across the street.

As night falls, the fat black Mercedes-Benzes and Porsches growl menacingly in reluctant obedience to the traffic lights.

Finally, late, very late, the streets are as quiet as a mausoleum – the odd trickling taxi – yet the incongruous sight of a young couple, backpacked, yet pushing a pram with a spaniel puppy  who sniffs the trees curiously, tethered on an extensible leash, seem in no hurry to find their way home.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


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