12 o’clock. The heat from the asphalt emanated with a kind of fury that dulled the senses and eventually the body. I tasted the salty perspiration on my lips and noticed the blazing sun was forming a haze in front of my eyes. It was exacerbated by the fact that I was growingly tired and after an hour of mindless wandering, I was lost, yet again.
This time, it was somewhere in north Jingan district (静安区). No heavy gear, just a 50mm and I was on the prowl for an afternoon of “decisive moments”.
But sanity prevailed amongst the general public which mostly stayed huddled indoors. Along quiet streets, one could only hear the whir of air conditioner units and muffled conversations from the television set. The occasional cyclist would wheel quietly by, making a most idyllic picture against leafy trees. Yet inspiration eluded me, leaving only a throbbing frustration.
On the verge of surrender, I stared longingly into a convenience store, contemplating a cold drink. Like a strange puzzle, the reflections of the street scene were especially illuminated by the afternoon sun, superimposing itself against the inside of the shop.
As if a special pair of rose-tinted glasses had been slipped over my eyes, I noticed another world unto itself – laundry hanging on the side of the road, a handsome girl cycling by with ribbons fluttering in the wind, a telephone booth and a leathery old man shuffling across the street.
Suddenly, the streets weren’t bleached by the powerful sun but cooled and colored by an interior world of sundries and shopkeepers. Feeling a hop in my step, the afternoon suddenly became a lot more interesting.