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大使疫情手记 (双语9:下) —— 放慢脚步,闻闻花香

1个月前 来源: VermilionArt朱雀画廊 原文链接 评论0条

作者:Geoff Raby

中文:罗曼

转自朱雀艺术

前澳大利亚驻华大使、艺术收藏家、经济学家、专栏作家 Dr Geoff Raby AO 原计划于二月底返回北京,后因新冠疫情爆发滞留悉尼。朱雀艺术特别开设【号外】专栏,连载大使的疫情手记。今日连载至第9篇(下)。

大使疫情手记(九)

放慢脚步,闻闻花香(下) 

(我回忆起了20年前的一段时光,这段时光与病毒疫情下的隔离时刻有着某种莫名的联系。当时我正在澳大利亚驻华使馆工作,偶尔会独自从北京到澳门休整放松一周。那一次也是一年中的这个时节,冬颜褪尽,春天来临。)

(接上期)

当时我最钟爱的酒店是贝拉维斯塔酒店,它坐落于离市区稍有些路程的岬角上,俯瞰着珠江口。这间酒店是葡萄牙殖民者以18世纪别墅风格建造的,这种建筑式样在里斯本较富裕的老城区随处可见。酒店共有三层,二楼是接待台、餐厅、酒吧及休闲区,三楼是客房,底楼则是工作区。坚固的新古典主义圆柱和拱门守护着酒店宽敞的门廊,让坐在外面的客人免于遭受任何恶劣的季风气候的影响。

酒店绿白相间的外墙早已斑驳不堪,内部空间则全部粉刷成粉紫色调。窗户上并没有玻璃,只有桃花心木制的百叶窗遮风蔽雨、阻挡阳光,这让我一直很感兴趣。我深深钟情于那些木质的走廊和吱吱作响的房间地板,仿佛在述说着140多年里无数过往旅客的故事与秘密。

在那停留的五日,我养成了一套现在还没有在悉尼建立起来的生活规律。每天我都睡到自然醒,不过通常不会太晚。我会在阳台上享受一顿丰盛的早餐(那时的我还是一个老烟枪,不必为体重担忧),看着航行在珠江口的渔船满载着当日收获的新鲜海鲜回到澳门。午餐前,我会懒洋洋地写几封航空邮笺(对于年轻朋友们来说,这个就是航空信件的轻便版),读一读我这周带来的一本书,加西亚·马尔克斯的《霍乱时期的爱情》。在那间陈旧破败的葡萄牙旅馆里,吃着烧烤海鲜,苍老的侍者穿着破旧的制服,戴着污渍的白手套,这些画面全都随着廉价的葡萄牙马特乌斯桃红葡萄酒灌入腹中。而我竟莫名感到自己与小说中那腐朽破落的加勒比海港口城镇及人物有着千丝万缕的联系。

《霍乱时期的爱情》

午饭后我会打个盹,下午晚些时候在镇里走走(当时那里尚不能被称为城市),然后返回酒店沐浴更衣、下楼用餐。头几天在用餐时,我点了半瓶酒,而服务生们误以为我点了一整瓶。不过我们很快就解决了这个问题,随后的服务堪称典范。

傍晚时分,我总会独自漫步在旧租界区那些破旧的、长满青苔和蕨类植物的迷宫般的后街和小巷。有许多餐馆向食客供应猫、狗、鸽子、蝙蝠以及穿山甲等野味。和当年的台北一样,后街的菜场有蛇店,男顾客可以在买一小瓶蛇胆之后潜入楼上的风月场。

当年的情况就是这样,而中国的部分地区现在似乎依旧如此。随着经济繁荣和教育发展,一切都会改变。如今,早已实现富裕发达的深圳昨日宣布禁止食用猫肉和狗肉。距离我上一次在二月清晨雾中的建国门外大街看到一辆满载狗的遗体的平板三轮车已经过去至少30年了。这场瘟疫,或许可以让这些改变更快地到来。

Geoff Raby’s Pandemic Journal 9

Smelling the Roses

My favourite hotel in those days was the Bela Vista, situated high on a headland, a little out of the city, overlooking the Pearl River Estuary. It had been built by the Portuguese colonialists in eighteenth century villa style that can be seen all over the older wealthier suburbs of Lisbon.  

It was three stories with the reception, restaurant, bar and lounge areas on the second floor and bedrooms on the third. The ground floor was the hotel’s service area. It had wide verandas protected from the elements by sturdy neo-classical columns and arches, that protected guests sitting outside from all but the most inclement monsoon weather. 

It was painted in badly faded pastel green and white outside, and a range of pastels from rose to magenta inside. I was always intrigued by the fact that there was no glass in any of the windows, only mahogany shutters to keep out the light, wind and rain. I loved the way its wooden passageways and the floors in the rooms creaked as if overflowing with secrets and stories of one hundred and forty years of guests.

For the five days I stayed there, I had developed a routine, which is still lacking here in Sydney. I would wake up whenever, but usually not too late and would have a good breakfast (as a heavy smoker in those days I didn’t have to worry about my weight) on the balcony watching fishing junks navigating the Pearl River Estuary as they returned with their catch to Macao. Until lunch, I would lounge writing aerograms (light weight airmail letters for those of a younger generation) and reading the one book that I had brought with me for the week, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, Love in the Time of Cholera. In that rundown shambling Portuguese hotel, eating barbequed seafood, served by ancient waiters in filthy white gloves and decrepit uniforms, all washed down by cheap Mateus Rose, I felt strangely connected to the rotting Caribbean Port town in the novel and its characters.

After lunch I would nap, and then in the late afternoon walk into town (it could hardly be called a city in those days) before returning to shower and dress for dinner. In the first day or two, some confusion arose with the waiters when they assumed that when I ordered one bottle of wine for lunch and for dinner, I actually meant a half bottle. We soon sorted that out and their service was exemplary after that.

My late afternoon walks alone would be around the crumbling, lichen and fern covered, labyrinthine, back streets and little laneways of old colonial Macau. Many restaurants were offering dogs and cats, pigeons and bats, and pangolin to the diners. Just as in Taipei in those days, wet markets in the backstreets had snake shops where male customers could obtain a vial of snake bile before ducking up to the brothel upstairs. 

That was just how it was, and it seems how it still is in parts of China. With prosperity and education this should all change. Wealthy developed Shenzhen announce yesterday that eating dogs and cats was now banned. It is at least 30 years since I last saw a flat-tray tricycle when walking along Jian Guo Men Wai Da Jie emerging from the freezing mist of an early February morning loaded high with skinned dog carcasses. The virus may also help to speed up this change.

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