‘If walls could talk’ was a phrase I used to hear quite often, referring to the silent witnesses to all that goes on within a space.
Well maybe this young lady is a wall whisperer – a lady who can hear what the walls have to say.
I spied her at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing in 1991. She stood at the wall for some time, listening intently. Sometimes she’d press her ear close against the wall.
I wondered if the area she was in had those acoustic characteristics like that place outside the oyster bar in Grand Central Station in New York where you can whisper into one wall and people diagonally across the space can hear you quite clearly. The shape of the ceiling acts as a wave guide and carries your voice along the ceiling to them. If you turn and talk to them directly they cannot hear you (unless you’re shouting, of course).
I was also struck by her hair. I imagine unbraided it would sweep the floor as she walked!
Update September 25, 2013
From research for my next Daily Photo, I’m sure now this photo was taken at the ‘Echo Wall’ surrounding the ‘Imperial Vault of Heaven’. The ‘Echo Wall’ is a smooth, circular, wall that transmits sound over long distances. It does act as a wave guide and does indeed exhibit the same phenomenon as the ceiling outside the oyster bar in Grand Central Station.