One week is never enough to 'see' a city, which is why I prefer to limit my ambitions. I only go where my feet can take me, avoiding the speed and mass of public transport. No use jumping from one city highlight to another, swimming in museum images here, immersed in shopping there and sounds elsewhere, hunting for an exquisite bite who knows where. There is never enough time to also connect those dots and really 'span' the city with a web of memories.
Keeping it small, making a home of my temporary room is easy enough. Setting up my equipment. Going through the rituals of preparing a cup of coffee.
Then it is time to start walking and find out what might be the hidden reason for my stay. In the hallway of the building I notice that most tenants want to avoid getting their mailbox clogged up with free newspapers and brochures. There seem to be no stickers to opt out of these and people do their best to discourage the poor citizens carrying brochures around.
Elsewhere in the street I even see an official looking notice fastened to the wall warning us that delivering brochures is forbidden and ignoring this will have serious consequences!
Exclamation marks are free and they are used a lot in this city. Do people assume that the reader of a note on the wall is numbed by all the other exclamation marks and that any message without one will therefore remain invisible?
In a very pleasant and calm coffee place there is a little space in the back with a gift shop. A sign here as well, warning us that unsupervised children are not welcome and parents will be held liable for any damage to the goods.
It becomes obvious to me that this trip is about these signs and I collect more of them as I go.
This is a city where almost everyone seems to be an artist of some kind. The waittress of the coffee place is a Portugese actress who goes home a few months every year to work in theatre productions. Here it's much harder to find work in the theatre because the city is filled with theatre people already, and writers, photographers, painters, dancers, all competing for the available spots in the limelight.
The signs seem to be contrasting the general atmosphere of freedom, playfulness, with graffiti on even the most stately old buildings. As if there is some unspoken impatience, some barely constrained aggression about little things you MUST NOT DO.
I look forward to staying longer, and coming back, to walk, and walk some more, and look for these signs, maybe reading the inner mind of the city posted on the walls.
|Only ice here! Sorry no soft ice|
|Please no unsupervised children! Parents held liable for damage.|
|Please lock the door!|
|No free papers!|
|ATTENTION!!! No leaflets and free papers in this house|
|LEAFLETS FORBIDDEN, break this rule and get punished|
|Hey, a happy greeting! |
|Dumping garbage forbidden!!!|
|Forbidden to park bicycles at the gate, thankyou|
|Heater air intake, do not move or close!|
|Due to illness the presentation "Is/eats veggi better" is cancelled. Watch your step|
|Use air pump at your own risk! NOT for French valves!|
|Warriewood Shopping Center, NSW AUS|
|"Restaurant 't Witte Huis" te Donkerbroek|
|Crows Nest, NSW|