Thursday, 4 October 2018

Construction and maintenance in the CBD

This is another collage compiled while walking the streets of Sydney but this one has something like a theme to it: the conveying of people from one place to another. I think this is a suitable theme for a post about the streets of the city I live in. The other theme for today’s post is that it deals with immigrants. Like other major global entrepots – Toronto, New York, London, Paris, Berlin – Sydney has a large migrant population. Over half of Australians have at least one parent born overseas, and new migrants mainly congregate in the country’s two major cities, which for this reason stand apart from other population centres in the country.

On Harris Street I saw a fit young man with dark skin wearing a blue T-shirt that had “Shut up and squat” printed in white on it, along with a stylised picture of a set of barbells. Beside him a woman who looked to be his mother was walking; she wore a colourful saree. Further down where the bus stop is located a young pregnant Asian woman with a small child, a boy, who was aged about four years, was getting up from the bench that has been installed there for passengers to use. The boy had an anxious expression on his face as he took his mother’s hand. He had a small smear of tan-coloured clay in the middle of his forehead.

A young couple, a man and a woman, passed me as I walked east on Union Street and stopped at the red light on Pyrmont Street near the casino. They were talking as they walked but I didn’t immediately catch what they said to one another. The man wore dark shorts and a singlet, and he carried a rucksack on his back that had a dark section with white lines in a plaid on part of it. His dark hair was long and hung down to his shoulders. The woman wore light-coloured trousers and a grey long-sleeved top and carried a green rucksack on her back. Her long dark hair had been put up in a knot at the back of her head. As we waited at the lights I heard the man vocalising in a distinctive Japanese way. He said, “Nnnnnnn”, expressing acknowledgement in his voice of what his companion had said without showing that he agreed or disagreed with whatever it was. Then I heard the word “hakonde” (which can mean “carry this” in Japanese).

On Union Street where the other side of the casino is, two cyclists went through a green light on the way to the city. A small, red compact car with a hatchback was heading west and wanted to turn into Edward Street. There was a young woman driving it and someone had stuck a “P” plate under the license plate at the rear of the vehicle. As she turned north she sounded her horn loudly twice, expressing anger at the cyclists, who were however not breaking the law.

I went to the chemist to fill two prescriptions and the man who served me had dark skin and wore black spectacles that had been made in a fashionable 1950s style. He put my drugs in a paper bag along with the repeat prescription and I paid using EFTPOS. Outside in the arcade two women were waiting in front of the cafĂ© and one of them said, “Thank you so much” to one of the wait staff who had brought drinks for her and her companion. Her voice contained a quantity of feeling and I got the impression that buying drinks there at that time of day was a regular thing for her.

On Pyrmont Bridge there was a crew of four workmen, three of whom had on hi-vis vests and one of whom was wearing a hi-vis shirt, who were intent on something in the pavement. There is an access point in the surface of the bridge at this point and they were gathered around it. Two of the men were squatting on one knee and two were standing upright. There was a truck parked next to them that had a crane that was partially deployed. A utility vehicle was also parked nearby and the back of its tray was open. On the ground near the men was a large, cylindrical piece of equipment that was about five feet long and that had a toothed gear at one end. The bridge has a swing mechanism that allows part of the span to open, to let boats into Cockle Bay. It was clear that the men were busy repairing this mechanism.

There was a brown Falcon GT stopped at the lights on Market Street that had a very noisy exhaust. You could hear it throbbing arrhythmically as it waited for the lights to change, and when they did it roared off loudly down the hill toward the west. At the corner of George Street the kiosk there had a poster installed in it that showed an ad for a ride-share company. In the photo a youngish man was lifting a child in the air. The child had a big grin on his face and his knees were hugging the man’s chest; his arms were wrapped tightly around the man’s neck. The boy was clearly Asian. “See you soon,” said the type on the ad, which had been put there by the company JC Decaux.

An Asian man in his thirties wearing a grey T-shirt and earphones in his ears was jogging in Pitt Street Mall. There was a still video displayed in a sign installed on the pavement near where I saw him that had the name in it of a beer that is produced under a label owned by a major Japanese beverage company. “Now you’re talking,” said the ad.

An Anglo woman in her late 40s with blonde hair looked me straight in the eyes on Castlereagh Street as I was walking north. Her feet made a skidding sound as she stopped her progress then changed its course so that she could go into the MLC Centre behind me. On Macquarie Street a large truck was parked that had “OneSteel” painted on the narrow section of its tray. On top of the tray were two sections of circular rebar, each of which was about four feet in diameter and about twenty feet long. The metal was orange due to oxidisation. The building site outside of which the truck was parked is for an office tower that is to go above a train station that is still under construction.

After checking in at the dermatologists’ for my light treatment, I went down in the lift and headed west on Martin Place where I saw an installation that included a sign made of letters about two metres high spelling the word “Everest”. It was set up on the pavement outside the MLC Centre. The name of a betting company was printed in green ink on a sign nearby. I walked to the food court under Myer and ordered a beef pide for breakfast. It was about 10am by this time and there was an elderly man with neatly-combed white hair and a trimmed white beard who was buying a kebab at the same shop. He had two heavy bags, one a dark-blue carry-all and the other a white tote. Considering the time of day, the composition of his meal, and the types of gear he had with him, I wondered if he was in fact homeless and looking for a place to sleep.

On Kent Street after coming out of the Queen Victoria Building I gave part of the change from my breakfast to the beggar who is usually stationed on the corner there, and he thanked me twice. As I waited at the lights an orange Kawasaki Versys motorbike ridden by a courier was being walked onto the footpath. The rider parked the bike in front of an office building and got off it, then walked in my direction back into the city centre. On Pyrmont Bridge I saw a man I often see in the area riding his mountain bike. He has a loudspeaker attached to the frame that always plays music that passers-by can hear clearly. Today it was Latin American mood music. On the western approaches to the bridge there were five workmen, four of them wearing hi-vis tops. “And there’s nothing coming out anywhere …” said one of the men loudly to the others as though capping a story he had been telling them, as they walked east on the pavement.

As I was walking through Union Square a heavyset youngish man walked out of a bank and headed up the hill in front of me. He wore a black-and-white check, long-sleeve shirt that had “13 CABS” embroidered on the back of the collar. He got into a badged cab parked on Harris Street as I passed him, walking north. Further up, near the Terminus Hotel, an elderly woman and an elderly man who looked to be her husband were walking their dogs on the pavement. The woman walked in front and the man behind her. Each had a small dog on a leash. The woman was chatting to the man and it looked like they always walked like this, in order to minimise inconvenience to other pedestrians.

No comments: