Every night I walk through the pulsing heart of Chinatown
here in Boston on my way to the train.
I’ve witnessed a kaleidoscope of urban situations
from drug deals to being solicited by “China Blue” of the night.
There’s a muted sense of mystery lurking around every dark corner, dimly illuminated by paper-cut hanging lanterns and humming neon.
Occasionally, I get a whiff of pungent sesame oil in the air creating visions of steaming woks
and maniacal chefs in the process of creating some outlandish order of Dim Sum.
I pass by the Lucky 88 Supermarket on Essex Street and glance in, surprised to see a beehive of activity.
From the front window I see a fish tank filled with anything but what I consider to be a fish.
It’s a subculture that thrives amidst the sometimes chaotic city of Boston.
Chinatown is also a place where I would never want to find myself at 3AM.
Crimson lace dragons peer from the backlit and smoky windows of Villa Moon,
a quiet restaurant tucked away on one of Chinatown’s many dark side streets.
While there’s something oddly enticing about it, there’s also a sense of foreboding and no access,
a ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave’ kind of mentality.
I know it’s all in my head but it’s what my eyes see.
As the fall days melt into winter dusk, the sun sets earlier and my journey to South Station grows just a bit stranger.
The shadows stretch and move, neon and fluorescent lights from the stores and restaurants give the ever so slight suggestion of a carnival at night.
Maybe that’s what this is.
It’s only when I take the time to actually ‘see’ this mysterious place that I come to grips with its all too stygian appeal.
Dim Sum, Fried Wontons.
Stir fry and Karaoke.
Boston’s Chinatown . . .