I was late for a subterranean meeting with our gang of poets and the Beijing Actor's Workshop folks. We were meeting to rehearse for our performance on May 7th to celebrate the release of Homonumos, a Beijing literary magazine, during the DIAF.
I was seated in a typical Beijing taxi. One of the older red jobs. The driver's pinky nail was quite long, I noticed, as he asked to look at my directions. The radio was blaring, but not with music. It was some kind of popular talk show. Really, something more akin to a sort of one-man lecture, as no one else ever joins in. Also, there are no commercials. The program continued, unimpeded, for the duration of the ride. Just randomly guessing, perhaps, four out of five cabbies here will be listening to a radio broadcast like this one when you get into their taxis. They seem to be quite popular.
I heard a car horn honking through the radio and assumed it was the addition of a new sound effect in the program, which was generally unadorned by such things, but when it happened again, I realized that the horn was in some way connected to play through the radio. It was a strange sensation. As the radio was quite loud, I would have normally gestured in my Chinese body language to have the volume lowered, but for whatever reason, it just didn't bother me today.
The driver was a quiet serious-looking fellow. It was a hot and uncomfortable day to be sitting in a car, and he had his pant-legs rolled up to his knees. He motioned for my directions a few more times, obviously considering them quite intensely.
"Ok?" I asked. An English word that all Chinese seemed to understand. He continued staring at my small yellow paper through his sunglasses, unresponsive. I questioned him again. "Ok?" No answer. I assumed that everything was in order as we continued down the road...