Saturday, September 11, 2010

Visiting the rich folks (nearly)

I just returned from a four-mile walk to the library downtown. My feet feel roughly the size, temperature, and flatness of pizzas fresh from the oven.

On the advice of my younger son, I departed from my customary route today. I drove to a lightrail station, parked the car, and then started my walk. After three and a half hours I arrived at the south end of downtown, browsed three of the used bookstores, and then traveled a mile north to the library. The library public address system announced that the library would close in thirty minutes, so I rushed through the stacks and picked out two books: a collection of Isaac Babel's short stories and a history of Western Civilization. (Just as the West is jettisoning its civilization, I seem to have developed a nostalgic fascination with its history.) Then, a quick walk to the shuttle bus, a ride to the lightrail stop, and soon I was whisked away on rails of steel to my waiting Swedish motorcar.

What about the photo above, you ask? During my walk, I passed through a high-dollar part of town where the polo people and country club folks live. Their elegant houses are protected by eight-foot brick walls, close-set shrubbery, and dense trees. If an owner fancies a mountain view, one window might peek west over the ramparts; otherwise, typically all that the proletariat is permitted to see is the roof and the featureless rear of the house. And don't think that you can go driving inside the neighborhood to admire the swell architecture. Signs are clearly posted that all the streets are private property and that trespassers will be prosecuted.

The wealthy folks in Mexico City's gated communities would feel right at home here. All that is lacking are those pretty shards of colored glass embedded in the tops of the walls and a smartly dressed platoon of guards with submachine guns.

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