I didn’t really realize how differently you have to behave when you live somewhere where you can’t speak the language. It might be easier to call a place to ask if they have an item I want, or to look at their website. But I can’t speak or read Chinese so these avenues are often closed off to me. I have to physically go places and see things and speak to people in person. I brute force everything. I tend to stick to routines. It is difficult to try new methods of transportation or be spontaneous because my mobility is limited because my communication ability is limited.
This afternoon I had an appointment to play the drums at a music shop near Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. I was coming from a lunch and I knew walking to the nearest MRT and having to transfer at another station would take too long. Instead, Google Maps suggested I take a bus that would get me within three minutes of my destination in ten minutes. Cool Google Maps. I wait for the bus and in the meantime miss the start time of my appointment. I get on the bus and after two stops I realize it’s an alternate route that will not take me within three minutes of the music shop. So I bail off the bus at the nearest MRT.
Surprisingly, I’m not upset. I call the place and say I won’t be able to make it. Then I hop on the consistent, reliable MRT and head to Zhongxiao Kinsheng and the Guanghua electronics market. I’m looking for a quality sound recorder. I’ve been told Guanghua is a good place to browse. Walking in, I’m overwhelmed by all the shops and people and Chinese. I find an information kiosk and ask about voice recorders. The woman behind the counter writes down the floor and stall numbers associated with the voice recorders Coincidentally there’s another woman at the kiosk look for them too.
“You go ahead,” she says. “My feet are injured so I can’t walk fast.”
I go up the stairs, get lost, and find her again at the first shop. I ask if it’s OK if I join her while she browses, and she says yes as long as I don’t mind walking slowly.
“Not at all!” I say. I want to ask her how she got injured, but I figure that’s overstepping.
Instead we talk about what we need the recorders for as we walk around to the different shops. She helps me translate the important info from the shopkeepers. Honestly, I have no idea how I’d fair had I not run into her. After we’d finished browsing, I thanked her and went on my way.
I had a few hours to kill and figured I’d walk around looking for a cafe to sit and write. Walking semi-aimlessly, I catch a guitar-studded storefront in the corner of my eye. I’ve been looking for a looping pedal, so I go in and learn that: 1) yes, they have looping pedals, but they haven’t got the new shipment in yet); and 2) they also have drum kit rooms! What?! BONUS ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.
Usually I stick to routine or previously planned out routes to a voice getting lost or wasting time. But today I tried something new (the bus), got lost, and wasted time and because of that I found NEW things. So I guess getting lost and wasting time isn’t all bad.