Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Most of the vehicular jerk-encounters around here seem to be instigated by male drivers (not unrelated: most drivers appear to be men). And yet after performing outrageous maneuvers they emerge from their hunks of metal – smaller on average than in the States – relaxed and jaunty, attentive, seemingly-loving. Tension seems to be held and expressed differently here. Perhaps the rude automotive shenanigans aren't a road-rage thing. Though I get the impression that little leeway is afforded foreigners, or at least not those from the United States. Our car is plated still from California, and I am forever run to the side by people passing on side, residential, unstriped streets on both right and left; they just force one to the side. Even when I'm not poking along, it's just de rigeur to force the interloper aside. Same from women at the market, though in fairness this happens to me in LA or Boston; I am insufficiently sure at public markets.

So I dunno. I do think though that these cultural metaphors and expressions for emotion are different here -- the vernacular just doesn't translate directly. Aggresive driving may not mean suppressed anger; pushy impersonal encounters may not belie political harmony. Or maybe it does. These are the pieces that just don't translate.

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