July 11, 2008

Chunky Air

I'm not sure if the following observation is a consequence of living in a big city, living in China, or some unholy combination of both factors. But some places in this city really stink. And I don't mean "stink" as in "are not fun or enjoyable". I mean stink as in "What the fuck died here, did it poop everywhere while doing so, and how long have the remains been lying around?"

For instance, the corner of Dingxiang and Changliu, just outside my apartment complex, routinely smells like butt. (Strangely enough, Dingxiang means "Fragrant flower.") I'm not sure what it is, but I've never felt the urge to investigate, and so it remains a mystery (that I actively try to avoid). And there are many times walking around the city that you'll accidentally get a whiff of something rotten, foul, or just plain nasty. (I'm not even talking about stinky tofu here, but smelling that in certain places doesn't really help things. There used to be a stall that sold it outside the Zhangjiang Gao Ke metro station, which meant my olfactory senses were bludgeoned repeatedly every single day after work, but I don't smell it there anymore, which either means the stall closed or my nasal receptors have shrivelled up and died, but I don't think the latter is the case, because I smelled it in the Yu yuan area about three weeks ago and, unfortunately, the scent came through just fine.) But really I'm making this post because I exited the Pudong airport yesterday at the ground level, looking for a taxi after my flight back. As I stepped outside, I was greeted with two unpleasant sensations:
  1. The intense humidity making it feel like I was swimming in vat of lukewarm Jello
  2. The overpowering smell of poop
For #2 there, I mean it literally smelled like poop, which, if you're me, and you've just finished over 24 hours of solid travelling, particularly from a city with clear blue skies and (relatively) fresh air, and the last 13 hours of that travelling was spent drifting in and out of consciousness on a metal tube hurtling through the sky at 550 miles an hour, and you're not looking forward to jet lag, and a cab driver has just attempted to take advantage of your whiteness by overcharging you up front for the trip to your house (of course I told him to take a hike) -- is just like the icing on the cake.

A really stinky cake.

Whence did this foul odor originate? I have no idea. And it because the stench permeated the cab stand area, I had no choice but to ride it out while I waited. (I didn't want to haul my luggage into and off of the MagLev.) Luckily I have learned to vent my frustrations (perhaps an unfortunate choice of words there, but there is no pun intended, I assure you) by learning how to say "Too smelly!" in Chinese: Tai chou le.

For those readers whom I convinced to visit me, well, I hope this doesn't dissuade you. Just be aware.

I will say that flying China Eastern airlines was great. They gave us really good food and were very nice. Because I was like the 4th person to check in (yay for 4-hour layovers at LAX) I got to sit in the exit row, which meant extended leg room on the A380 they used for the flight. The flight was not full - several people spent the whole flight supine across the six seats in the middle aisle. Lucky.

I read (it's now standard for me to start and finish an entire book in one flight), listened to some music, talked to my seat-mate a bit, and watched a movie whose only saving grace was the presence of John C. McGinley, which meant it was easy to pretend like I was watching Scrubs. Actually I lie, it was also fun to ponder the irony and sociological implications of one of gangsta rap's originators acting in a derivative suburban family comedy.

It's 7:30 AM and it's really muggy in my apartment. Because I don't have central A/C, only the unit in my bedroom is on. When I open the door, it's like diving into a bowl of tomato soup. Yes, the air feels chunky.


1 comment:

Richard P said...

Hi Ryan! It smells in NYC too, one breeze might be pleasant floral scents and then the next seems to come from Satan's port-a-potty.