Friday, June 13, 2008

More Good, Bad, and Neutral

Hey kids! Time again for more of everybody's favorite list! Unless you don't like it, then it's everybody but YOU!

GOOD: Chinese Language
I've been running into some great phrases lately. Some things just don't translate well, or they translate hilariously, and I like it.

mǎ mǎ hū hū - horse horse tiger tiger
Yeah. This one's great. It means "so-so". As in, "Hey Yin Wang, how's that fried rice treating you?", "Awww, It's just horse horse tiger tiger." So far, no one can tell me where it came from or the logic behind it. A part of me hopes i never actually find out. I'd like to continue believing that the ancients honestly felt the resulting mayhem from putting several horses and tigers together would be just average.

jiā rén - family
But literally, "home people"! Awesome. Finally, a way to accurately express the joy and love i feel for my closest relatives. They are my home people, that is the bond we share, and that is how we'll keep it.

míng baì - I understand
And literally, it means "bright white". Which almost doesn't make sense, except when you think about the English equivalent of "clearly". I like that. Totally different cultures end up expressing a thought the same way, but from a slightly different view. It shows how we're all pretty similar, and it's the changing technology and generations that have made us seem so foreign.

BAD: Sand Storms
You know how fog rolls in sometimes and you can't see the building next to you? It's like that, except fog doesn't make your eyes bleed and your mouth taste gritty. Yeah, Beijing has a problem. See, it used to be a desert. Or rather, it should be a desert but humans have decided they'd rather live there instead. So it's been developed and water has been redirected. However, the dunes 70km west are blowing eastward at the rate of a few km/year. It's a slow killer, and unless China steps up their reforestation efforts, it's going to be a huge issue in 20 years. For now, you just have to stay inside for a few hours 4 times a month.

NEUTRAL: Traffic
I've talked about this before, but I just love watching the traffic here. I'm fascinated by the deftness with which drivers navigate. For example, take the intersection near my house, which isn't particularly large. There's the 4 lanes of main road, 2 each direction. After a small patch of sidewalk, there's another lane on each side, like frontage roads. Then, after another small sidewalk, there's a ANOTHER frontage road. That makes 8 lanes total, and 6 separate roads. At anytime, a car can go from one of those 6 roads to any of the other 5. I don't believe there's any law against crazy u-turns or cutting across six lanes of traffic in one move. You can imagine the gnarled mess that results. But through all the honking and near misses, it clears up every 30 seconds. Awesome.

Of course, it mostly just makes bus or taxi travel crawl to a halt, which gives traffic an overall rating of neutral. Subway's on the other hand... i guess that's a topic for next time. I could write a novel on that.


Postscript: For a brilliant explanation of normal traffic snarls, click here. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, at least look at the photo at the bottom.


Piper said...

I feel pretty neutral about this post, K.

But horse horse tiger tiger would make an awesome ulty team name.

Jenny said...

The traffic pictures are funny, especially this one in the comments: