Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Beijing, China: Week 9, Part 2 (Memory Shreds)

I've already started to lose the details of each day by the time I sit down at night to write. They slide, worms into the sand, wriggling away from the grasping fingertips of my memory.

And so when I pull, the day comes back in shreds:
- WenHong riding in on the bus with me. She's staying with me while she's in between school and her internship, just for two nights. She buys me breakfast - fried bread with a fried egg in the middle, folded over lettuce and fried ham. Warm soy milk.
- The Orange-vested "bus guards" who work during rush hour. They keep people from cutting the line onto the bus, make sure nobody gets run over and talk to the driver so the bus doesn't leave before everyone gets on. People still cut, but not so much.
- Feeling utterly frustrated with myself about my inability to remember Chinese vocabulary, as I labor to translate a big document.
- The sweet WCS volunteer/student whom I met today, saying she wanted to work in the states but her English was so bad, and who was so happy when I said we should hang out and we could help each other with this whole language thing.
- Sitting at dinner with my brother and mom, talking about relatives in the US who I didn't even know I had. They're distant, but even then I want to know them.We eat drunken dry-smoked fish,  lotus buds with celery, pork tendon in a mysterious yellow sauce, and duck soup. Later my brother tells me about a project management framework. More on family in a future post.
- Rain, pounding.

The most amusing Beijing resident I've met so far was our taxi cab driver today. He was complaining about the rain, which was just starting to let up when he got us. "I never pick anyone up in the rain," he said, "first of all, you can't see anything when it's raining that hard - out the back or the front. There's so much traffic when it rains too. For that reason alone you might as well just pull over on the side of the road and refuse to go anywhere. Now, even if you did drive, it's horrible because we don't have insurance. So what if you get in an accident in the rain! Who is going to pay!
And then if you pick someone up, they won't get out of the car once you get them there! They just want to sit inside the car, they refuse to get out. It's crazy. I don't make more money either when I drive in the rain. So why  bother. In fact, most people I know just go home when it rains like that. Plus, you can't see because the windows fog up. Then I have to turn on the air. And I'm freezing! But I can't open the windows because it's pouring rain!"
My mom cuts in, "But that means that when people most need a taxi, they can't find one."
He retorts, "I can't help you with that."
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