Is there anything out there beyond the mass of towers stretching into the heavens? Buildings pop up from the ground in all directions, floor upon floor precariously stacked on each other. Dozens of identical windows line each one, letting the light into the tiny interiors of offices and homes of hundreds of people packed into this dense little square of the earth. The rooftops are flat, blank canvases, sometimes featuring a line of laundry or a patch of garden plants, while many others are void of signs of life entirely. It’s a work of human design and construction, the natural landscape almost entirely replaced by this man-made skyline. Peeking out from beyond the concrete pillars, are the rugged outlines of far-off hills, a reminder of the world beyond this labyrinth.
Peering down into the streets is like peering into a canyon, each road lined by these vast buildings, the sunlight barely trickling down into them. It’s like watching insects navigate a huge grid-like maze, turning corner after corner, masses of them swarming up and down the streets. Every street is the same, yet different; all shadowed by the massive towers, and full of people and traffic, colourful signs and shop fronts. Yet this one is lined with the tents of a market, this one is strangely quieter than its neighbours this one is a huge boulevard crammed with queues of traffic; and bridges and subways span across half of them, adding more layers of dense complexity to the map.
At night it all takes on an eerie glow, the city lights never allowing anywhere to get truly dark, while the flashy neon signs create rainbows everywhere you turn. The noise never stops either, the rumble of traffic and the symphony of voices calling through the night. There’s no denying the life and energy thrumming in the city, where there is always something happening, from the bustle of the night markets, to the music blaring amidst the drunken crowds swarming the streets, to the continual stream of airplanes landing and leaving.
This is all human creation; both astounding and heartbreaking, beautiful and ugly, energised and exhausting. A city full of life, of colour and sound, of culture and history, of architectural development. But a city that is dense, busy, polluted, noisy, and has removed every vestige of the natural land that was here before. It’s an incredible, exciting city, and a place to call home for so many; but who can say if humanity should create places such as this or not?
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