20. A Street in Najirèh
The outer district of Najirèh (“Empress”) is so named in honour of the empress Aritokèh, during whose reign the area’s first streets were laid out. It is located on a raised plateau surrounded by rice fields to the north, south, and east, and by the Golu Canal (See n. 38) to the west. The unnamed avenue presented here is typical of streets in this part of the city, with their tall, regularly spaced trees and narrow wooden sidewalks. Typical, too, are the long rows of attached houses, with a ground level built of stuccoed masonry and an overhanging second story of wood. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the depicted scene, and it may at first be difficult to understand why the artist chose to include it in the series.
Upon reflection, however, one may well conclude that it is exactly in such generic spots that the true spirit of the city is to be found. Any tourists visiting Sensuka for the weekend can marvel at the monumental buildings in the city centre, stroll through the pleasure gardens of Rateliska, sample the street foods along the Terenfi Canal, or dance the night away in the Kadukilo during the Totamontra festival. If they know the right locals, they may also be shown the way to smoky, semilegal poetry dens, or to hole-in-the wall portside restaurants where the fishermen come to eat their own catch, and hand it over still flopping to the kitchen staff. But it is not these sights and experiences, however captivating or memorable, that make Sensuka Sensuka. What is really special about the city—what is truly worth marvelling at—are the vast number of nondescript neighbourhoods like the one depicted in this print, these rows upon rows of lives—of many generations of lives, which we will never know and we can never know. And all these lives, one way or another, revolve, or once revolved, around the same centrifugal force: Sensuka—not the physical city, but an energy, or an idea, or whatever dream it is that the city represents in the heart and mind of each individual.Continue reading