OF TAXIS AND OTHER THINGS … FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF A NEW LIFE

Taxis in Beijing Since moving half way across the globe 8 months ago, from laid back, cacti-filled Tucson (of just barely 1 million people) to one of the most populous and complex cities of the world, BEIJING (with a population of over 21 million people), I find that I have more time to myself and yet . . . I’m busier than ever.   Every minute is used up – used to absorb the new, the unusual, the surprising, to digesting never-before-sensed images, sounds and smells and trying to make sense of them all. Every action and every interaction is new and different, and an opportunity to learn – all the while taking a tremendous amount of energy.   Here in Beijing, I sit in taxis a lot.  A lot. It’s called: da chu zu qi che.   In Tucson I used to teach people yoga and move gracefully through a yoga studio and even life it seemed :) Now I sit in taxis. Sitting in a taxi doesn’t require much energy, you would think?   TAXIS are now my new mode of transportation (remember my cute red car?), my new office (great views, but unfortunately not enough space for yoga or singing), as well as the place where I study and practice most of my Chinese. After months I can actually tell the driver where I really want to go and how to get there. Being able to say the right words with the right tones took weeks and months! And yet it seems that no taxi driver has ever heard of the street that we live on, in this city of 16 thousand square kilometers (6 thousand square miles). But 460-some taxi rides later, there have been 3 drivers who knew where to go. I cherished every moment of those 3 rides :) . . . not having to worry about the next turn and how to say it in Chinese, in the correct tones, without confusing or inadvertently insulting the driver, without stress to body and mind.   I could write pages about the TRAFFIC in this city. You have to see it to believe it, how fluidly these millions of differing vehicles (cars, buses, bicycles, tricycles and trucks of varying shapes and sizes) AND people weave in and out of each other at the very SAME time. It’s nothing you could ever imagine, having seen only Western world traffic. You have never seen such skill, such speed in reaction and such coolness. No one ever wastes time getting upset. There is such an acceptance. Yes, we are all here and we all have places to go, all at the same time, AND it’s all ok. And even when there is an accident, which is very rare, they stay calm and smile. Their calm and their smiles in the most challenging times have been such a ray of hope to me and I am grateful for the kindness of the Chinese people. These beautiful people are always happy to share their little space, which stands in stark contrast to the strong sense of ownership over a piece of dirt in other places of the world that I have lived in. Every day 3 million people take taxis in Beijing and yet there is no such thing as competition in getting one :). It might just happen that on the way to your destination the driver is now close to his home and doesn’t want to take you any further . . . I’ve actually had that happen to me. Not so funny the first time, but again you begin to soften and relax :)   Oh, and as many varied people as there are in this world, there are taxi drivers! There are ones that will not respond to single word of Chinese, but with a grumpy sound, others that will actually have a conversation with you, especially because you are a foreigner, others that will flirt in broken English and others that will SING! Those are my favorite! The Chinese love to SING! All of those who sing, do so really well.  They sing or hum sweet little folk songs. I can’t wait to sing along with them, one day :) I really LONG to sing again or rather: I’d love to sing more…  I have had some wonderful opportunities to sing already: was able to record with a lovely and talented musician here in Beijing for her new album. Also, things are well under way for a new single of my own … so watch this space.   Until the next impressions of Beijing life, N

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