Sunday at noon I had just finished watching the movie AI. The end was a bore, and I had practically fallen asleep by the time the “glass aliens” started talking to Pinocchio (David) about blah, blah, blah. Outside the window of the serviced apartment, the sky was misty and grey. It looked like it had been raining, and that it would again. But I wanted to go out. I grabbed my smelly poncho, camera, wallet, and keys, and left for a grand adventure.
As I unlocked my bike, I felt the first drops of rain. The drops increased as I passed a lot of interesting and soggy scenery. Amateur Photographer in China Magazine would describe the sights as “Very Photographable.” Unfortunately, my lens, viewfinder and screen fogged up immediately. Sunday, I would have to record memories the old fashioned way: neurons. For a tripod, I’d use my legs. I would crop shots with my hands and adjust the f-stop with my pupils. To download the photos, I’d insert a USB cable into my spinal cord and get NEO to unload the “photos” into the Matrix so that I could show them to Trinity. Morpheus might want to see them too, but I’m sick of trying to impress him.
View of the Nanpu bridge through demolished buildings before it started pouring.
My route took me to the base of the Nanpu Bridge, a white suspension bridge over the Huangpu River. Surrounding the spiraling highways that converged on the structure, were many dilapidated or partially demolished buildings. The whole area looked like it was slated for revitalization.
By now, the rain was pouring and my poncho was overwhelmed. I pedaled hard and found shelter over one of the touring overpasses near the base of the bridge. I chuckled to myself. A few months earlier, this same scenario had happened to J.
A handful of other people were staying dry with me: a young couple that was making out, two pairs of domestic tourists, a garbage man, a random man without a shirt, and two middle-aged dudes on motorbikes. We all stood around, taking furtive glances at each other as torrents of water downloaded from the sky. Twice, buses passing above us sent a heavy blade of water off the overpass. The first time, the shirtless man was hit.
Water poured in streams off the gutter-less drains on the bridge. The streams remained intact for about twenty feet before dissipating into the wind. A pipe attached to our overpass roared with water at the open end that poured into a drain.
After thirty minutes, the rain decreased enough to venture home. Inside, I changed out of all my wet clothes and ate a raisin cracker. Back on the couch, I wondered if the rain gods had wanted me to go on that bike ride.