Wahre, wilde Stories aus Indien und China

Benutzer133456  (49)

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Ich habe waehrend meiner Jahre in China und Indien ein paar verrueckte Sachen erlebt, die ich auch brav niederschrieb, zur Ergoetzung der Massen. Sie sind auf englisch - ich hoffe, das ist OK. Ich kann mich auf englisch sehr viel besser ausdruecken, und man spricht das ja heute eigentlich ueberall. Hier sind ausserdem so viele nette Leute, dass ich das gerne hier teile.

Also, ab dafuer, die erste:

The World According To Balvindra

My Driver’s Insights On Foreign Foods, Coughing, And My Chances On The Indian Wedding Market

The person I spend most of my time with these days is Balvindra, the eighteen year old driver of a silver Tata Indica Diesel with the plate number “KA 01 AA 3961” by Balaji Taxi Company, Bangalore, Karnataka, kindly call for appointment. He picks me up every morning at nine, and takes me to the college in a faraway corner of Bangalore.

For two full hours every day, we sit together in this tough little car, air conditioning doing its best to filter out archaic diesel particles around us, battling potholes the size of garden ponds and speed bumps designed to imprison Lamborghinis.

During that time, Dharma makes a painstaking effort to explain some basic truths of life to me. When my laptop’s battery charge has expired, and I am closing the lid of my trusty Toshiba L750 to be recharged at the earliest opportunity, there is no escaping the lectures of my driver. Balvindra is a typical Bangalore resident, thin, tall, and dark skinned, speaking Kannada-accented, Indian English when he isn’t interrupting his speeches in order to nurse his iPhone, or to attend to a Jesus statue in danger of toppling over on the dashboard, following a particularly deep pothole or an unusually high speedbump.

“You seem to have a bit of a chronic cough going there, Balvindra,” I remarked one day, unable to contain my curiosity about the almost rehearsed, dignified little coughs he had been emitting every 42 seconds that day.

“Ah yes, Sir!” he responded cheerfully, evidently delighted to have found a subject of mutual interest for the day. “Has been going on since my fourteenth birthday, Sir. Very mysterious. My mother always take me to homeopathic doctor in other city, Karnataka, very famous. He take me by the hair and pull me up like this –“ (Balvindra grabs his own, black hair and pulls on it in the same fashion in which cannibals in Papua Guinea tend to carry their trophy shrunken heads), “… until my other tongue back in place.”

“Your… other tongue..?” I nodded with the gravity reserved for the terminally insane, not sure what he was talking about, but open for surprises.

“… Scientific evidence, Sir! Everybody have two tongues. One in mouth, one in throat. Invisible to layman. You pull up on hair like that, second tongue go back. No more cough. Many weeks.”

“It sounds like it’s time to be pulled by the hair again then, I presume…?” carefully initiating the next stage of the conversation.

“Some time, hot food help a lot!” he continued after a short, but enthusiastic nod, following an evasion maneuver and a honk aimed at a colorfully painted, noxiously fuming truck straying into our path at the speed of a dying Helix Pomatia, “My grandmother some time make Mattar Paneer with special chili from North of India. You know Biryani, Sir? Next to my house big Biryani Centre. All the coughing people from neighborhood come and buy. Is great medical advancement, helping millions. One chili, never cough!”

We nodded at this insight in agreement and continued along the way, avoiding other vehicles in the peculiar way in which Indians tend to share the road; the idea is basically to creep up close enough to another vehicle from behind to maximize the shock impact of the horn, use it, and start making passing motions, but ultimately staying beside and behind the other vehicle as if lacking the power to go past. Any slowing down of the vehicle in front must be penalized by vigorous horn honking, but passing is not an option, even if the road is as wide as the desert. Passengers with high blood pressure are advised to bring blindfolds. Must have something to do with the caste system.

“Do you like snake, Sir?” my driver asked, having vanquished a two-hundred year old school bus with the Tata’s horn, now crawling toward a stop at a bus station with several million waiting passengers, its spirit visibly broken by our antics.



“Ah, beefsteak! Yes, I do like it, but where I normally live, in China, I wouldn’t touch it with a long stick. Too many creative ingredients, you never know what that steak used to be before it ended up in a pan.”

“Could be snake?”

“Yes, why not. I have actually eaten snake, you know. In America. Not bad. A bit like chicken, but tougher.”

“Like old chicken, right, Sir?”

“Yes, a very old chicken. Crocodile tastes a bit like that, too, coming to think of it. I ate that once in Louisiana.”

We pondered this realization in mute appreciation while making our way through a heavy cloud of smoke billowing from acres of burning rubbish beside the motorway, street dogs blinded by the smoke waddling hither and thither between equally blinded cars and autorickshaws as we slalomed our way through the maze of potholes, speed bumps, overloaded trucks, and street vendors carrying huge baskets of coconuts.

“You reducing a lot, Sir!” he suddenly exclaimed, after a brief side glance, eyes wide with terror, once we had exited the rubbish cloud. “Your weight become very less!”

I looked at myself in a certain state of alarm – what had that cloud done to me? Then I realized he was speaking in general terms, not as an immediate observation. It was true, I had been losing quite a bit of weight since arriving in India.

“Now you can almost get married,” he added with a sense of approval. “Face and hair very good. Only body still fat. Next time you come to India, I take you to MG Road. Very good girls there, Sir! Hair and eyes and feet… premium quality.”

With that, he sank into contemplative revelry, dodging scooters where possible and disciplining dopey fellow drivers through horn use. This will continue to be my daily exposure to Indian wisdom until December 8, 2011. Then, I will fly back to Shanghai, doing what has to be done there, and returning to India on January 18th, 2012.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing girls with hair and eyes and feet of high quality, and if I cough, I will remember to pull myself by the hair to get that other tongue under control.

To be continued, and watch out for honking Tatas driven by eighteen year olds, you may be driving too closely in front of them.

Benutzer133456  (49)

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Passend zum Thema Strassenverkehr, hier ein taxidrama aus Bangalore:


It was a pleasant February evening in Bangalore, with temperatures around the twenty degree mark, and someone had had the good idea of meeting up for pizza at a famous restaurant in the city.

“I’m going to need a taxi this evening, Anand,” I said to the kindly receptionist. “The address is 101-85, Onehundredfoot Road; it’s some kind of pizza restaurant, and I need to be there by seven, please.”

“Taxi? Right away, Sir.” With these words, he began to rummage through piles of objects on his desk, looking increasingly flustered as the minutes passed. Then he came to an abrupt halt and gave me a beaming smile with more than forty teeth: “AC or non-AC, Sir?”

I specified the kind of taxi I wanted, and he continued to rummage through his desk’s contents. “It must be here somewhere”, he said, more to himself, displaying genuine signs of confusion. “The phone is always next to the printer… ah here it is at last.” He dialled a taxi company and gave directions, partly in Hindi, partly in English, as is the custom. The conversation between him and the taxi dispatcher soon seemed to heat up considerably around the words “pizza place”. I watched with growing concern as Anand became ever more agitated, gesticulating animatedly, raising his voice and adding the words “very important guest” and “pizza place! Pizza place!”

With a satisfied smile the size of the equator, Anand abruptly ended the phone call and informed me that my taxi would be there by six, making sure I arrived by seven, and that everything was taken care of. I should be waiting in the underground car parks’ taxi bay at six, and a great evening on the town was going to ensue. With that, he put the phone near the printer and slumped back in his chair, exhausted from the intensity of the interaction.

By six o’clock, I found myself lost in the catacombes of the compound, with no hope of finding a taxi bay. It was a dark, dimly lit underworld of concrete and oppressive heat, sparsely populated by preposterously undersized vehicles with names like Maruti Suzuki and the odd Suzuki Swift sedan, looking outsized by comparison. There wasn’t a soul about, and I couldn’t believe how confusing and vast the labyrinth under the compound was – I was beginning to wish for red yarn, imagining horned shadows everywhere as my footsteps echoed off the unpainted concrete walls. At last, I happened upon a uniformed guard – a thin, hawk-like figure in his early seventies with a Bindi between the eyes, saluting me properly. I saluted back, asking:

“Excuse me, Sir, where is the taxi bay?”

The guard made a motion that seemed to imply the question “have you eaten, son?” He did not seem to speak English. I assured him that I had, in fact, eaten so much and so well that any further enquiry was truly unwarranted, and that I desperately needed to find the TAXI, TAXI.

He gave me a look that seemed to say, “ah; another one, just like the others; this will be hard…”

The guard motioned me to come with him, and I found myself taken straight to a booth in the middle of the parking structure where women in colourful saris were apparently making alterations to clothing, using sewing machines from the 1920s. It seemed like a good place to get the laundry done, too. I asked them where the taxis were, and received wild-eyed glances of bewilderment – another madman, obviously. The guard nodded in acknowledgment of the jury’s verdict and took me back to reception, where I came quite close, at six-thirty-two, to grabbing Mr Friendly Guy Anand by the tie and saying something fairly assertive to him about my taxi.

Spraying transpiration in all directions and smiling like there was no tomorrow, Anand assured me the taxi would be very easy to meet up with. It was usually close to the taxi bay, or the gate. Or somewhere like that. Sometimes, even close to the ATM. It was a great and and amazing thing, this taxi.

He would now be coming with me, I informed him, getting him to take his phone, which, I knew, was ever so close to the printer, to make a call and ensure the prompt manifestation of the wondrous vehicle at a place of my convenience. The clock was nudging towards 6:48 pm.

A mere hour later, spent loitering near the gate of the compound with Anand making important phone calls to attract taxis, a banged-up little Tata Indica manifested in front of us, mangled but running. “Your taxi, Sir!” Anand beamed, ever the sunnyboy.

Rarely have I been this happy to see a vehicle reminiscent of the worst the French were able to throw at us in the late 1980s. Waving a kindly “thank you and good bye” to Anand, I plopped onto the supple, vinyl-guarded backseat of the 55-horsepower diesel beast, scanning the horizon for the great times to come. “101-85 Onehundredfoot Road, please,” I said as if I hadn’t spent the past two hours despairing at the prospect of getting mauled by the Minotaur.

“Where go, Sir?” the driver’s voice rose from the general vicinity of the little Ganeesh statue on the dashboard.

“Ah,” I said, it’s all arranged, you see. Surely, you remember all the directions you’ve been given by your dispatcher, via Anand, the great and wise receptionist? I am going to some pizza place, the crisply clear coordinates of which are 101-85 Onehundredfoot Road, Bangalore – now do your best to get me there, I will be an hour late as it is.”

The driver gave me an empty look which made me understand promptly that all hope of a pizza with my friends was now lost. But I wouldn’t budge. I had been through an hour of anger because this guy couldn’t find me, now I was going to make him earn his money. As far as I was concerned, he was the professional to whom I entrusted myself for my cash; he would have to hold up his side of the contract now.

“101-85, Onehundredfoot Road,” I reiterated, then smugly sat back and said no more. The man of mystery had spoken.

The driver set the car in motion, relentlessly edging into flowing traffic across six lanes at the pace of an undecisive water buffalo. Thousands of horns blared, lights flashed, trucks the size of houses and as ornate as temples stopped mere inches from my window, families riding on scooters across all three generations whipped around us with empty expressions in their eyes in the face of communal death. Perfectly normal traffic in Bangalore, in other words. But what really had me concerned was that the driver was bobbing back and forth, back and forth all the time. He seemed to be pedalling. It couldn’t have been the case though, because at the rate he was moving, the car would have had to be going much faster.

A few metres down the road, the driver let the car come to a crawl, stopped bobbing back and forth, slumped over, and the car finally came to a stop near the curb at an angle. First suspicions that he may be feigning death to get out of having to drive me evaporated when he turned around and said, “where go, Sir?”

I pointed down the road, bracing myself for a long evening of doing just that. “Onehundredfoot Road.”

Slowly, he backed the car into free flowing traffic again after bumping it forward into the curb first, horns, trucks, scooters, and began bobbing back and forth again, the car picking up speed. All seemed well, until, about twenty metres on, the driver again let the car come to a rolling halt.

“Where go, Sir?”

It was by now 7:22pm. I visualized my colleagues smirking in the restaurant, mouthing: ‘Typically Chris, always late!’ Have you also noticed how the kidneys seem to pulsate with this dull, surprisingly strong pain when you get really, really unbelievably angry?

With the last bit of composure, I calmly said to him, “look, my friend; all I know is, I am going to a pizza restaurant tonight, which is located at 101-85, Onehundredfoot Road. You are a taxi driver. That means, you know where that is, or find out. OK?”

Something about the words I had said seemed to have given him an infusion of enlightenment. He looked at me with a flash of energy in his eyes, saying “Bizzablace!” With that, he turned around like lightning and started driving with a purpose. Still bobbing back and forth, but who cares. The car was moving.

Buoyant with sudden relief, I leaned back in my seat. The universe was looking after its own. There was a god, and a pizza place, and a driver who knew how to get there. All would be well now.

Four minutes down the road, we came to a tentative stop in front of a cluster of small shops, abuzz with women in saris, men in shirts, and cows eating casually out of troughs. One shop bore the proud name “Lakshmi Pizza” – my driver nodded at me expectantly, obviously awaiting my cries of joy. I motioned him on, down the road, which he demurely complied with.

The procedure was then repeated over and over again, applied to six more pizza places. At the last one, I got out of the taxi, opened the driver’s door, took him by the hand, and pulled him into the pizza restaurant. “Excuse me, Sir, I addressed the first waiter, can you please explain to my driver here how to get to 101-85 Onehundredfoot Road?”

The waiter looked at me with squinty eyes. “Onehundredfoot Road? That is close to the big building. Many houses. Lights, lights! Near Malleswaram.”

I gestured toward my driver to make him understand that some major clues were being leaked here. They talked in Kannada for a long time, animatedly. As the voices were raised more and more, I understood the conversation was beginning to bear fruit. Abruptly and with a smile, we were released into the wild again, my driver striding purposefully toward the car, and off we roared, toward pizza, at last! 8:12, my colleagues would have eaten by now, but who gave a toss. This was about principles.

Further enquiries at petrol stations, tyre repair shops, family restaurants, furniture manufacturers, and banks over the following four hours revealed ever more astounding data quite relevant to edging closer to the fabled pizza place on 101-85 Onehundredfoot Road.

According to one legend, the Pizza Place was next to a large church, which, upon more committed questioning, was actually a hindu temple with eight towers. This, in turn, was later revealed to be a refinery, but it was next to a field, which was exactly what some other sources had prophesied. We seemed to be getting somewhere with this.

As the clock was approaching two in the night, we began to have a very strong sense of presence of the Pizza Place. An intuitive knowing that we were close now. Without needing to tell him to, the driver stopped the car. We were in a quiet part of town, shaded from the full moon by alleys of large, old trees. Sleeping dogs were curled up along a wall, easily recognizable as a popular urination site for the faint of bladder.

I instructed the driver to wait and started walking around, in search of the Pizza Place.

A barefoot, old man was sitting on the curb, eyeing us with polite disinterest.

“Is the Pizza Place nearby here, Sir?” I asked.

“Bizzablace, ahh.” he said and looked into the distance, as if remembering a great deal of sensory information right there and then. But he said nothing more. I savored the depth of this. A glance at my watch revealed that it was now close to three in the morning.

A street dog got up, stretched, walked across the road, curled up in a pothole, and went to sleep again. The old man looked at me again. It was a sign, of course. Time for us to go home. We understood. “Yelahanka,” I said to the driver, “the college.” I planned to be on time for work. You should try the Pizza Place some time. It can change a person.

As for the evening with the colleagues, who cares. They never found the place, I heard later. They should have had a taxi.
[doublepost=1460281781,1460281719][/doublepost]Hier eine zum Thema Paradoxe in der Kommunikation in Indien:

Cracking the India Code

One thing I keep telling everybody about India is, “no matter where you’re from, if you speak English, you’re fine. Everybody will understand you.” The sad thing is, it isn’t true. I have yet to arrive at a satisfactory explanation for the bare fact that no matter what you say in India, especially if your English is crisp and flawless, people will usually understand something very different from what you said. Not only that – they will act upon it immediately and provide unforgettable service on the spot, giving you exactly what you least expect.

You call reception to ask for IT support, and promptly get two hundred complimentary teabags. Requesting a wake-up call at 7 am will inevitably produce an eager member of the pest control squad whose mission ends when all curtains have been sprayed with rosy-smelling insecticide to the point were little puddles form on the floor. Ordering a motor rickshaw will get you two newspapers - on Sundays, including an extended comics section. Requests for toilet paper will be dealt with by alarmed manager visits, in the process of which the bathroom armatures will be dismantled and a move to another room with complementary satellite TV will be facilitated.

Everything in India seems to work like that. Wi-Fi access isn’t possible with the proper keyword. You have to mistype it to get anywhere, then walk away, feigning indifference, so that it may eventually come and find you.

There is no hot water. You have to switch it off first.

If you can find a light switch, rest assured, eternal darkness is your fate.

“Good morning,” I said, sauntering into the hotel lobby at eight in the morning one day, “may I have breakfast, please? “ Wilson, as the receptionist, Dharma, insisted being called, almost fell over himself to accommodate my request: “Taxi, Sir? Right away, Sir!” he exclaimed, making his way to the telephone at breakneck speed. “You require air conditioning or non air conditioning?”

“I require cornflakes, an omelette, and some Chai, please, Wilson,” I responded with utmost diplomacy.

“Airport Pickup,” Wilson concluded, bobbing his head enthusiastically while dialing a number and exclaiming something in Hindi into the receiver that sounded a bit like “a car now, or off with your head!” Minutes passed, as I began to wonder what I might do with my taxi I was about to receive, free with cornflakes.

“There will be surcharge for additional passengers,” Wilson informed me with a look in his eyes that seemed to say, “this is what the world is coming to; you must be brave now.”

“There will be three hundred passengers. I want sixty taxis, please,” I said in an oddly fatalistic turn of events. I figured if I jumped the gun, the topic might disappear. And lo and behold, it did. Wilson looked at me in a fossilized sort of way for a split second, then put down the receiver, extended a big, warm hand, pointing vaguely in the general direction of the kitchen, or a broken chair off to the side, I am not too sure, offering “breakfast, Sir?”

That was the turning point in my life as a communicator in India. From then onwards, everything became very easy.

“More coffee, Sir?”, the waiter asked with a slight bow as I was about to rip into my second omelette that morning. It hadn’t taken more than a short recitation of a real estate agency’s slogan I had read in the Times of India that morning to procure it.

“No,” I said, “please turn around and take the next highway exit towards West Andheri. My elephant lives there.”

“Right away, Sir,” the waiter exhaled, pouring me a fresh cup of coffee. Whole new universes opened up. This was the place I had been looking for all my life, it seemed. People understood what I wanted, no matter what I said, as long as I said something entirely unexpected. This was the creative man’s utopia.

“A jug of water, please, Wilson,” I mentioned to Dharma in passing.

“Laundry Service is on its way, Sir, 4 pm.” That was what I wanted. I was in heaven with the implications of my new existence. I had cracked the India Code! Empowered, I walked down to the college, preparing to meet my students. Boy, the things I would be saying to them that day…!

The college guard blocked my way as I came in through the gate of the institution, gesturing absentmindedly at the visitor’s book he was in charge of administrating. “Let me sign,” I said, which got me waived through at once. This was like a fairytale.

“Hello Jasbir,” I greeted a colleague in passing, “there is a zebra in your handbag, and it looks hungry.”

“Okay,” she replied, “a meeting at three would be good. See you over a cup of tea then.”

This was a discovery of huge, anthropological importance. There would be research papers on this. I was going to be famous.

On my way to the office, I wished the cleaning crew a happy steamship outing, pointed out to a passing student that the times of linen robes were nigh, and generally called it to the odd person’s attention that small, yellow birds were made of custard and generally to be mistrusted.

“Polar Bears rarely venture this far south in August, your highness,” I pointed out to the dean of the philosophy department as we met in the corridor leading to my office.

“Excuse me?” she said.

Nothing could hold me back today. “The kings of the cotton empire were driving big, black Packards, and they were wearing wide brimmed hats,” I elaborated willingly to the dean, a dignified veteran lady of long, academic standing whose reputation as a merciless vindicator of blatherers preceded her famously.

“Are you all right, Chris?” she asked me, looking worried. “I think you were just talking about the cotton empire.”

I froze. How did she know that? Hadn’t I clearly said that? She couldn’t possibly have understood – not in this country. I began to stutter, trying to come up with a succinct summary of today’s sensational discovery, and how it would serve to elevate my status above academic mediocrity, only that it sounded more like the mumblings of a madman in white silk stockings found driving around a countryside mansion’s dining room on a Bobby Car on Christmas Eve. At the end of my monologue, during which I had discovered about one hundred and four ways to die and sink into the ground, she took me to the side and said:

“Look. It’s not about what you say. It’s about who says it. Welcome to India.”

And if you have understood the moral of this story, you are miles ahead of me. Maybe it’s not about who writes it, but who reads it.
[doublepost=1460281879][/doublepost]Auch in China gibt es Einbrecher. Hier meine persoenliche Erfahrung mit einem Einbruch in China:

Burglar Night

“Enjoy calm pleasannt lifestyle by River City city Apartments close vbrant Shanghai central sights. And cultual.” , the brochure had proclaimed when I initially moved into River City Apartments in Shanghai. And I had been doing exactly that for quite a while.

Until one night, during a storm, I heard a loud bang outside my ground floor apartment. Expecting some furniture or large ornament to have fallen over on the balcony, I went to investigate.

A cursory view of the living room balcony revealed that everything was in its place. With a shrug, I went into the kitchen to have a glass of water, intending to initiate the second part of my slumber thereafter.

Things began to take a turn for the worse when I reached for the bottle of Italian mineral water and realized that the rather tall, Chinese gentleman dressed in dark winter clothing and work boots standing next to the fridge really should not be there.

The encounter turned out to be brief, as he decided to lunge out onto the kitchen balcony and jumped over the balustrade, scrambling away through the bamboo thicket while I was having my heart attack and doing a bit of late night shrieking.

I did turn out to be lucky, as I had been standing between him and the long bread knife on the kitchen counter which, in another scenario, may have turned out to be a handy weapon for a surprised criminal in a fit of panic.

He had broken the lock of the balcony kitchen door to get inside the apartment, and as it turned out, had been interested mostly in the laundry hamper. Nothing was missing, but my laundry items were strewn all over the balcony floor. He must have known I have a penchant for Hi-Tech shirts. Or perhaps he was into my clever, Swiss socks that actually indicate which is left and which is right.

Compound security arrived soon after my call, and notified the police.

“Why no alarm?” the security officer asked me. I told him I hadn’t been aware I had one, and besides, I hadn’t imagined there to be burglars in China, either.

He explained to me that the alarm was an amazing thing. All I had to do was to push the second button from the right in the lower row of the small, blue, wall-mounted box on the wall next to the entrance area wardrobe, and as soon as anyone tried to open a door or window, it would go off, make one hell of a noise, notify compound security automatically, and activate a cluster of CCTV cameras mounted all over the entire compound to track any movement.

To demonstrate how easy it was, he pushed the second button.

Two hours later, the alarm was still blaring at a high pitch that really hurt in the ears. As the clock neared four in the morning, neither the security officer, nor the technicians he had called, nor the police commando which had arrived eventually, were able to turn it off.

Compound inhabitants in pajamas who had been beckoned by the commotion had turned up in ever greater numbers to watch the spectacle. A young family was by now camping out in my living room, the mother feeding her baby. They declined coffee, but gladly accepted the Danish cookies I offered.

The group playing Ma-Jong on my dining table though did like the idea of a late night coffee, and I went to make some for them and the security guards, who were by now engrossed in studying the components of the dismantled alarm box, which hung out of the wall on a few wires, the noise still going strong.

As it turned out, I was out of coffee, but decided to quickly get some anyway at the 24-hour shop across the street. The apartment door being subject to dissemination by security at the time, I decided to follow the burglar’s example and casually swung over the balcony railing into the bamboo brush growing there. On my way to the shop, I found a shopping bag containing socks, which gladdened me, because they were mine.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw more police approaching the building’s main entrance. It felt good to be taken that seriously. What an impressive demonstration of police response. I would have to buy more coffee than I had anticipated to host all these officers.

On my way back through the bamboo, climbing over my balcony railing, I promptly found myself gripped by two strong hands. A police officer had taken hold of me, and shouted something into the apartment. More officers came out onto the balcony, and dragged me onto my own balcony.

The alarm was still screaming at full volume. My apartment was by now absolutely crawling with people, beginning to resemble a Shanghai Metro morning commute. The family on my couch had had pizza delivered in the meantime, and were beginning to get comfortable, figuring out how the DVD player worked. I did have some great Quentin Tarantino movies. Security officers explained the remote controls. It’s a great thing to rent apartments that come with all the equipment, someone will always know how to work it.

It took a while for compound security to convince the police that I was not the burglar, and only few of them accepted my coffee. It still ran out rather swiftly around six in the morning, when the estate agents arrived. They had heard the noise and decided on a whim to stop by, handing out leaflets advertising for River City Apartments, in case someone present was looking for accommodation.

By quarter to seven, as I was pondering whether to simply retreat to my bedroom for a while to get some rest, the noise of the alarm system suddenly stopped. A tall, Chinese gentleman dressed in dark winter clothing and work boots had appeared on the scene and singlehandedly ended our plight by some expert nestling with the remnants of the alarm system interface. By now, it resembled a loose collection of wires, springs, and LCD screen components dangling from various holes, doors, and torn-off panels all over my apartment.

With a wink and a slight nod, he bowed out and left, leaving us to enjoy the rest of our coffee, pizza, and movies, as people began to wander off to go to work or make breakfast.

I have made many new friends that night, and even gained beginner level skills at Ma-Jong. As for where all my socks are, I have no idea.

Maybe the dryer has eaten them, as it tends to do.

I better make sure there is enough coffee in the house for the coming night, maybe the burglar will want some.
[doublepost=1460281939][/doublepost]Und hier noch etwas zum Thema glorreiche Designwelt in China:

The Great Showcar Unveiling

You’ll be drenched

I had received the gaudily presented invitation letter by PengPeng Motors, Ltd., one morning in my office. I had never heard of PengPeng Motors, but knew that new car companies were popping up in China every day, and as a car designer by training and inclination, had been hoping for an opportunity to experience the Chinese car design scene for some time.

The letter had read:

“Dear PrOfessor,

We look forward to welcoming you to Great PengPeng Show Car Unveiling.At Xinju Bathing Palace, Li HoGuZhuang Village

You’ll be drenched in surprise

. Please bring your business card to secure entry: No business card - no entry!

World exclusive preview of PengPeng Shiny concept car .

20.10 – 21.30:Buffet served

22.30: Door closing

23.00:Event finish


PR Team, rilliant Promotions, Ltd.

Address is:

724 Linbai Lu Li HoGuZhuang Village


Bathing Palace“

I had taken the fast train from Shanghai to Beijing, capable of 550km/h. Now I was sitting on my hotel bed in Beijing, waiting for my hired, chauffeur-driven car to take me to the great event. Security guard “Walter”, as he insisted to be called, had taken it into his own hands to organize a taxi of superior quality and unrivalled economy to take me there, as he kept assuring me every time I poked my head out my door.

When the time had come to board the amazing means of transport in front of the hotel, I found myself ushered into what might have once been a proud little Chinese family car – some twenty-five years ago.

“I Walter best friend,” the driver introduced himself to me, offering me a cigarette he had plucked from above his ear when I had taken a seat on what may have been the world’s most worn-out backseat. With a push from Walter and some skillful clutch operation by the driver, the ancient vehicle of no certain denomination rumbled to life as soon as it had rolled down the ramp in front of the hotel lobby, and we merged into the stream of Beijing rush hour traffic.

I was hoping at least the claims of economy would hold true as I was doing my best to keep the loose seat from sliding into the footwell, and to reattach the little crank I had torn off trying to roll down the window.

The driver had been briefed about the destination, and I decided to lean back and enjoy the ride, looking around, taking in Beijing as it unfolded before me.

The little car was humming along ever more sparsely frequented highways as time went by, and after about one hour of steady driving, during which I did my best to hold my part of the car together, we were in the open countryside. Leaving behind the glass towers of Beijing, we were now in a serene setting dotted with scattered houses and little forests, fields of vegetables, greenhouses, and the odd truck.

My watch indicated that our arrival at the destination wasn’t far off.

After some turns into treed alleys with less and less visible pavement, we entered a walled courtyard. The driver brought the car to a stop and turned around with a nod, indicating we had arrived.

“Thank you”, I said, “will you be waiting for me here when I return?”

“I Walter best friend,” the driver said.

Not certain whether this was a vow of loyalty or rather proof of his inability to say anything else in English, I gave him a nod and a smile and carefully extracted myself from the wreckage, shaking imaginary vehicle parts from my trouser leg as I went.

Turning around a corner, the courtyard gave way to an exquisitely landscaped, little park. At the end of a winding path stood a brightly lit, low, modern building with large windows all around and a pagoda roof. More demure buildings were visible in the background.

Looking at my watch, I realized I had arrived half an hour early.

The glass building with the pagoda roof was decorated beautifully inside. The entire building was one large room, strewn with luxurious designer couches, traditional Chinese screens and room dividers, spotlights, lanterns, and a bar. In some corners, there were traditional, Chinese beds, built like closets; they were done up with white silk bedding, and lit up tastefully with modern, shaded lamps.

Nobody seemed to be present when I entered.

I looked around for the show car, anticipating a low-slung silhouette under a cloth somewhere, perhaps on some kind of pedestal. But for now, no such manifestation was apparent.

A swish of silk clothes emerged from behind a paravent, and a very pretty, Chinese lady appeared, carrying a tray with a glass of Chinese loose leaf tea.

“Werrcome,” she purred, giving me a professional smile and offering me the tea, which I accepted reverently. “Prease, come this way,” the lady said, turned around and led me to a white couch shaded by willow branches in huge, hand painted vases. Then she left again.

Sipping my tea, absorbed by the pleasant atmosphere, I began to wonder what kind of car I would be seeing eventually. Would it be the usual sports car companies so often choose to produce to generate interest at car shows? Or perhaps something more progressive, in line with China’s claims of wanting to become the world’s first, green superpower? An electric car, perhaps? Or even a motorhome, given the homely atmosphere of the surroundings, and the beds...?

Two amazingly pretty girls in lavender silk robes approached. Without any further ado, they sat down on the couch next to me, had me take off my jacket, and made me put on a pink bath robe. While one of them was loosening my tie, the other began massaging my neck and shoulders. The original welcome lady approached again and brought another glass of tea.

I congratulated myself on my early arrival. Surely, such privileges couldn’t be bestowed upon all visitors once everyone would be here.

The girls were chatting and giggling while I was enjoying my massage and the excellent tea. There is something about real, Chinese tea that somehow can’t be reproduced elsewhere, it seems. A depth and exoticism of fragrance and taste which ... – now one of the girls was taking my shoes off. I was beginning to get a bit worried that they’d have me disheveled and looking like a clown by the time the show began, but assumed all was well-rehearsed by them and part of the event.

“What kind of show car will we be seeing tonight, do you know?” I asked, testing the waters to see if they spoke any English. But they only giggled and continued to caress me. Fine, I thought. It’ll all be well. There will be some sort of foot massage, a final flourish with some kind of perfume, perhaps, and the royal welcome treatment would be bestowed upon the next guest. One thing was sure, these guys really knew how to present a show car. Whatever kind of car it would be, I was surely going to like it.

That was when one of the girls was beginning to open my belt.

It dawned on me, not least after consulting my watch, that things were taking some unexpected turns here. I pulled the invitation from PengPeng Motors from my shirt pocket and drew the girls’ attention to it, explaining that that was the event I had been invited to, just in case there had been any misunderstandings.

The girls suddenly stopped, the smiles fading from their faces. One of them took the invitation letter, got up from the couch and ran to fetch the welcome lady, who returned with an apologetic look on her face:

“I’m sorry,” she said, “you in wrong buirrding. This is brother.”

“Brother?” I asked.





Thanking everybody profusely for the tea and other friendly gestures, I bowed out and went on my way along the now very dark garden path, in the direction the welcome lady had pointed out to me.

After a few turns and passing little bridges and fish ponds, I finally found myself at the entrance of a hangar-like building. Banners proclaiming “PengPeng Motors World Exclusive Show Car Unveiling” reassured me of the correctness of the location this time.

Presenting my business card to a team of friendly ladies in white tracksuits, I entered and immediately found myself among a dense crowd of Americans, Europeans, and other corporate figures with a distinctly automotive flair to them, milling around a large, dark room with an enormous buffet on one end, and a brightly illuminated, covered car next to an indoor pond with water lilies on the other end.

Ambient, industrial music gave the atmosphere a suitably progressive tinge, and tense, professional reserve hovered in the air. Looking around for any fellow-oddballs, I saw no one.

Taking a glass of champagne from an offered tray, I swung around only to bump into Esbjörn, probably the only other designer besides myself who goes by the nickname “Vampy, the Buffet Slayer.” Mutually delighted to have found someone to talk to at last, we began to approach the buffet out of innate reflexes we simply possess.

Reaching out for plates, my hand was stopped in mid-air by a friendly hostess in a white tracksuit.

“Exca-use me, Sir,” she said, “ah you V.I.P. guest?”

I showed her my invitation letter. Apologizing to no end, the white lady explained to me that the buffet was for V.I.P. guests only, and that, apparently, I didn’t qualify – and neither did Esbjörn.

Our world crumbled. What would we do now? No buffet to slay. And it would have been such a nice one, too – salmon filet, some sinful-looking chicken things, asparagus, even what looked like Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce...

“Such a cruel country,” spat Esbjörn with a teary eye, barely able to conceal his Swedish accent. In the low, hard light, his face looked haggard. We turned to look at the show car instead.

The great moment was about to arrive. The president of PengPeng Motors and the R&D Team were standing in a neat row in between the still sheathed show car and the large, lily-covered indoor pond, microphones in hand. The speeches began, carried out in Chinese, and accompanied by courteous applause at regular intervals.

After a final applause, an aggressive techno piece came on over the sound system, and several members of the R&D Team on cue began to slowly pull the white silk sheet off the show car, unveiling a beautiful, silver sports car with glistening chrome mag wheels, mean-looking headlights and grille, and buffalo leather upholstery accentuated with brushed aluminium inlays.

Amidst applause and cheers, the president of PengPeng Motors began to speak into his microphone again. As he stepped onto part of the white silk sheet, which was now lying on the floor, one of the R&D team members was in the process of finally yanking it away with a hearty movement.

This was all it took to topple the president headlong into the lily pond.

With a great, big splash, the president submerged, lilies flying high. The crowd was frozen in shock. A split second later, his microphone also touched down in the water, having completed a short trip through the air, immediately throwing all the breakers in the building, and leaving the gasping crowd in complete darkness.

“Pffffwwwtthh!!” said the president, evidently not lethally electrocuted, and shrieks of laughter and terror began to fill the air as he struggled to come ashore in his tuxedo. The emergency lighting came on. In the ghostly light of the battery-powered exit door lamps, we followed a strange spectacle.

Members of the audience and R&D Team members alike were trying to pull the president out of the lily pond, but one after the other lost their grip on the wet marble flooring and fell into the pond themselves. After a few moments, the lily pond was full of people and resembled a feeding frenzy of Piranhas, the whole room resonating with screams and shouts. The emergency exits were opened, and pretty ladies with pink bathrobes entered like a task force, helping drenched guests in business outfits of both genders dry themselves. Hair dryers were waved in the air like pistols at a cowboy fair, with people looking for working power sockets.

The confusion was perfect.

Esbjörn and I exchanged a glance – it was now or never. Using the general turmoil, we plundered the buffet. When the lights came back on, we had already stuffed our pockets with various portable food items and our mouths with all the relevant delicacies, and had covered the way of the dark garden toward the car park without falling into any fish ponds ourselves.

“I Walter best friend,” my driver assured us as we plumped down on the backseat, and managed to get out of the car park before a flood of approaching taxis for drenched guests would make our escape impossible.

All in all, it had been a successful evening.

I still have canapés in my jacket.
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