Yesterday and the day before yesterday the baby was in pain, the infamous colics. Although she would sleep at night (thankfully), it was all pain, discomfort and crying during daytime. Now, one thing that soothes her is going for a walk — perched on us, that is. So, yesterday at dusk I strapped on (no giggling, please) my baby carrier, slipped the baby in it and set off.
Although in pain, she fell asleep minutes later. I plugged in my earphones (thank you, iPod) and walked around the neighbourhood as it was getting dark. I followed a familiar baby walk path: I encountered the twins couple and the twins in their double pram; I once more checked out the small local playground, with two children playing watched over by nannies: a South Asian and an Eastern European; I reobserved the grotesque house (I will need to take pictures of it and post them here); I looked at the immigrants sitting in the front yard of their house to escape the heat, looking back at me, a strange man walking alone with a baby hanging in front of him; I passed the “three bedroom for rent”, which has been up for rent for ages; I once more admired the new white and violet Renzo Piano-esque block of flats which must give spectacular views over the dusty city.
Then I decided not to turn back home: the baby was comfortably fast asleep and I felt like walking a bit more. So I took a right, into a street some 100 metres from where I live (as the crow flies) and discovered a strange urban landscape, a place that looked very far away from here, a vista that could be filmed as generic ‘city’ and pass as Seoul, Bucharest or Paris (you know, the unfancy unstuccoed part). I realised it was just the brutalist buildings on the avenue I see every single day the facades of — this time viewed from the back. It was thrilling: dusk becoming nightfall, lights coming on, the hum of traffic in the background and me walking somewhere else, in a new place only meters away from where I have walked and lived and despaired for the last eight years.
Egged on by discovering an urban mini vista virtually next door to my house, I crossed the avenue. I saw a new bar of obvious charms called ‘Stop’ (named after that old condom brand, I suspect) next to a football club’s fan club, next to the Montenegrin guy’s shop — the one’s who fixes bags and suitcases, if he can. I contemplated on the retro socialist posters dedicated to Mayday in the subdued light of the Workers Union entrance hall, whose acronym is the Compatridese for an incomplete penis (or, to be honest, the incomplete word for ‘penis’, rather). I got lost in well-known side streets curving around massive commercial-light industrial-residential blocks, abandoned en masse. Past the bakery, past the college granting worthless degrees (but valuable temporary residence permits to South Asians) and up the hill. The baby woke up screaming. I rushed back home, with a baby crying against my chest and belly. Jod came out at the window: “I could hear her” she said. It was time for baby bath.
We had been away for 45 minutes, having walked 4 km or so.