Monday, 20 August 2007

The Church of Tai Chi

My alarm is set for 06:30, but I know it's time to leave for work when I hear music from downstairs echoing around the concrete blocks like a cathedral choir. The local ladies congregate before 8am, stand around a ghettoblaster at the kiddies play equipment, limber up for a few minutes then, with varied levels of skill and enthusiasm, practice their tai chi exercises.

I say enthusiasm but it's pretty tame stuff - upper body and arms mainly, certainly no swords, lengths of silk, flying drop kicks or Jaws of the Tiger. They don't even stand with their knees off lock. If it's raining, they could easily move a few yards under the void deck and continue but invariably they just sit down for a chat.

One morning I walked past and a Jane Fonda workout tape was punching out a disco beat and instructions which meant the volume had to be kept down so as not to drown out the gossip. By 20 past 8, everyone's sat on the benches chatting or reading the paper. Which is all they wanted to do in the first place I reckon.