I visited the market again last night. It is a place in my dreams. It is never quite the same, although I have been to it so often that it takes on the shape and feeling of a physical reality in my memory. So much that it is hard for me to accept that it is not real, that it is not somewhere I have ever been. The changes are frequent and large although there are similarities that inform me it is the same place. A corner of interzone that I am required to visit. Somewhere buried within it is a food stall, sometimes it's a sit-down restaurant although it never has moor than wooden chairs and plastic covered tables. It is in China, selling noodle soups and jiaozi, CHinese dumplings. They are the best dumplings and noodles I have ever had. The staff are as permanently changeable as the place itself. And although the menu is the same the actual servings are quite different. Always cheap, always delicious.
I am not always able to find the restaurant. Sometimes it is hidden, tucked around a corner I can't quite reach, past the fabric and plastic shops, the piles of blue and red striped bags, the grey clothing. The sky is often grey. Once it appeared on the grass near the end of Norris Road, although that had been stretched, houses moved out of the way. A perfect English park crushed alongside the chaos of the market. Sometimes I am alone, sometimes with others. People I have not seen in years, people I was in China with, or people who I have only just met, or do not know.
I have tried to pull at the memories that might inform the look of the place but they do not exist. The market is completely imaginary, and yet I have been there, as much as I have been to the Arndale Centre or Machu Picchu. It does not exist but that does not make it unreal. It calls me back to it, with the promise of one good, cheap meal more.