Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Getting Settled

Yeah, so...
life is plugging along. Everyday I get a little more comfortable in my environment here. I can now navigate the buses and metro with ease. I can order food (or at least point my way through the ordering process) and I can settle a bill. I can tell the taxi dude where i'm going (Wǒ yào qù Wanshoulu dìtiě) and recognize when i get there. I've got a cell phone (15810852889). I've arranged a tutor for 2 hours per week to learn Chinese.

But i'm still a long way from being comfortable in traffic. Until yesterday, i could only cross a street huddled among locals. Traffic is chaos. I'm pretty sure street lights are just suggestions. Also the painted lane lines. Cars will often straddle one until one side opens up. And cars seem to come at you from very odd angles. Everyone gets cut off by everyone else, always. But there's no road rage. In fact, the only indication the drivers are even paying attention (other than the infrequency of actual accidents) is the blaring of horns. No vocal complaining or cursing, just horns. Excerpt from a typical autoconversation:
  • Car 1: Honk! [I'm merging in exactly 1 second.]
  • Car 2: Honk! Honk! [Unacceptable! Unacceptable!]
  • Car 1: Honk! [Done.]
  • Car 2: Honk! [Thank you.]
  • Car 3: Honk! [Honk.]

Think about it... if someone in The States honks at you, your mind immediately tries to comprehend what a colossal dick that guy must be. But here, it's just part of driving, like checking your blind spot. Which, they actually don't do. Also: bumpers are actually used for bumping things quite frequently.


1 comment:

Greg said...

While I was in Kunming, a less congested city that involves higher speed traffic, this was another meaning of the horn:

Car 1: Honk! [I'm going to run this red light that I'm quickly approaching.]