Oct 15, 2011

It’s playtime

Old fashioned toys

The girl with a stick and hoop

We saw this girl the other day playing with a hoop and a stick, like something out of the 1820s, but what I’ve noticed is that people here — not just children — seem to go in for old-fashioned modes of entertainment; I’ve seen more little boys doing tricks with yo-yos in the past three weeks than I ever have in my life.

I don’t know whether it’s the city we’re in or the entire culture, but here there seems to be more life lived out in public than even in New York City. On our evening walks, we meet plenty of people taking similar strolls, and we pass countless groups of people at tea houses and what seems to be semi-private clubs playing cards or Mah-jong - they seem settled in and like they’ll be there for a while.

Anecdote: I asked one of my students what his favorite weather was, and he said rainy. When I asked why, he said it was because then he was allowed to stay in and play video games. I asked the whole class, “When it’s sunny, do your parents make you go out and play?” A resounding yes was the answer.

Whatever the cause, the people are on the streets, and it’s awesome. This city has a really lively energy that’s exciting to be a part of - and the language barrier is blocking less than we feared; everyone understands a smile (New Yorker Emily is barfing over in the corner and making faces, to be sure).