I always call this place Rat Park in my head, because when you look in the bushes you can see enormous rats just running around. Sometimes one will dart across the path right in front of you. It's intense.
Rain or shine, snow or sun, there will always be Chinese Chess matches going on, groups of men and groups of women (always separated by gender) gather around to watch the players. Sometimes matches get intense, and sometime the crowd gets so dense that you can't even see the game.
Today, the park was not so crowded, so I got close enough to watch a match. I made friends with the men who were playing, who thought I was a tourist because of my camera, and didn't believe that I lived in Brooklyn until I lied and said that I was shooting a story for the New York Times. When I'm out with a camera, taking pictures, anywhere in the city, pretending that I have a legitimate photo assignment is the best way to convince people that I'm serious. Not sure why I feel the need to justify myself, but, come on. Tourist? No thank you.
The men explained the rules of the game to me, taught me some Chinese, and then invited me to play. I had somewhere to be and couldn't stay long, but it was nice to talk to some strangers.