Friday, August 16, 2013

Killer Artwork


Q: When is a zebra crossing not a zebra crossing?
A: In China!


They have zebra crossings here, but rather than act as traffic ordinance, they're merely pieces of artwork, carelessly disregarded by pedestrian and driver alike. For foreigners new to China, these pavement paintings are very dangerous indeed; wrongly assuming that they carry familiar authority is a sure way to end up under a bus (or truck, car or e-bike), adding your own crimson hue to the hapless drawings underfoot. Traffic lights have some following here, but many remain unbelievers and are yet to be converted to the faith. There is a strong adherence to the traditional belief models of "I was here first, so I get to go first" and "I'm bigger than you, so I get to go first". While these two schools of thought may at first appear to share common ideology, clashes between their respective proponents can often be observed at intersections all over the country. For new arrivals to the wilds of China's urban roads, my advice is to ignore any street signs, traffic lights and doodles on the bitumen and just follow the crowds. Don't follow the lone maverick straying across three lanes of flowing metallic indifference but rather clump with the herds crossing en masse at bewilderingly unpredictable moments in the chaotic gush and sputter (nothing ever truly stops) of torrential traffic.

Good luck.