Thursday, August 24, 2006

July 24, 2006

I am sick of taxicabs. Sick, sick, sick of them. I am sick of watching this city whiz by me in a sea of gray buildings against gray skies, or worse crawl by me in a traffic jam, so I can distinguish restaurants from parks from foot massage parlors, but in which I still have absolutely no idea where I am. Ever. I can’t say the name of the street where I’ve been living for the past four days and, even if I could say it, I couldn’t tell any of the many cabdrivers I keep encountering where it is, partly because I cannot communicate at all, and partly because I don’t know how to get there. From anywhere. So I hand cabdrivers little scraps of paper with directions in Chinese written on them or else hand them the cell phone that we have borrowed and stay out of the way. I have never experienced a new city this way before. Usually, I get out my guidebook and walk around or else take the subway or buses, but all of our friends swear by cabs, and, given how sprawling this place is and how unfamiliar, I understand it. But I’m frustrated at being permanently discombobulated, and it makes me feel like I don’t know Beijing at all. I have my fuzzy impressions of cars and bicycles and carts and people and building after building after cranes and cement trucks building more buildings, but I hate feeling lost and I feel lost all the time. And I’m sick of cabs.

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