Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A new friend--and a warning

Yesterday as I walked up to the traffic light from the free Xinbeitou bus (the Xinbeitou metro stops running at 9), a little boy waiting next to me at the light said:
I responded the same and we continued to wait for the light to change.

Just to put that story on hold for a second, I want to point something out, a warning of sort, something I've been wanting to say for awhile now: When you come to the traffic light near the Xinbeitou metro, don't think for a moment that the light changing from red to green means you are safe to walk. What it means is that the cars coming from one direction will stop and the cars coming from another direction will start. I'll have to take a picture to explain what I mean.

So, the light changed from red to green, and for a moment the path seemed to open up. Then, just as we were about to start walking, a flood of cars from Quanyuan Rd. (my road) began to filter through the space before our feet; it was a raging mass of cars and motorcycles. I said to the boy:
很危險!It's dangerous!
A few times I tried to dip my feet into the road, but I dared not proceed. The boy seemed to be waiting for me to go.

Finally the cars parted in a scene more miraculous than what Moses did after he said: "Let my people go!"

I walked across the street and the boy followed. After reaching the other side, we began our descent towards the source of the spring (lit. translation of the street name). The boy asked:
Where you going?
I'm going home. I live on this street.
Me too.
How long have you studied English?
Four years; that's because I'm in fourth grade.
So, you started studying English in 1st grade?
He didn't understand the question, so I asked the question again in Chinese. He nodded and said:
Your Chinese is great!
I said:
Thanks. It's okay. Do you go to that school?
The one on our street, that I pass everyday--the one that I just discovered used to be a Japanese hospital.
No, that one's normal (putong). I go to Beitou Elementary school,
he said with a proud voice. Then, he pointed across the street and said that is where he lived. He crossed and disappeared behind a fence.

I continued my ascent. When I reached the 7 Eleven near my apartment, I entered and purchased a Taiwan Dragon Well beer. Like clockwork the guy at the counter said:
You're earlier than usual today.
I looked at my watch, which read--9:17.
Not really, the same as usual.
He smiled and said cheerfully:
Good night!
Good night!


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