Friday, March 18, 2011

When The Universe Speaks

I’ve always been fond of saying: ‘If everything you undertake toward a certain venture goes wrong, consider that the Universe might be telling you this is a bad venture’. In my case, and in the case of some spectacular failures I have witnessed, this has proven true.

I’m not saying my move to China was a wrong move as far as the universe is concerned. I think all of the serendipitous events since I’ve been here prove rather conclusively that this has been a good move for me. Unless the universe is preparing to make me the butt of some monstrous, cosmic joke, that is. But I don’t think that will be the case.

Ken’s marriage to Della, on the other hand… (see Bah Ling Ho entry). Nothing has gone right for him since he got together with her. That is a good example of the Universe telling you you’re making a bad move.

Here is another good example:

Today, the weather started out terrible: cold, windy, rainy. I had an early class to teach, so I was out in this weather. Fortunately I only had to walk to Building 2, so I was only out in the elements for a few minutes. But, that was enough to sour me to the idea of going anywhere after class today.

However, in the hour and a half that I spent engaging these students of mine, the weather changed for the better! The sun came out, the wind and rain stopped and, even though it was still a bit chilly, it turned out to be a nice day. A great day to go out, in fact.

I had heard word that there is a certain bookstore near Wuhan University (not the one I teach at) that sells books written in English. I figured it would be fun to get on a bus, find the University and browse the bookshelves for a while. With the weather being what it is and me already dressed and ready to face the world, why not go?

I made sure I popped a Benadryl, and set off. My not-so-trusty-anymore website indicated that Bus 564 stops directly in front of Wuhan University, and the first bus stop for that bus just happens to be one stop removed from my campus. I could ride a bus from my regular stop, down one stop to connect to Bus 564, but why bother? The sun is shining and the next bus stop is only a half-mile away.

Famous last words. I had apparently forgotten that it had been raining earlier today, and the mud slathered itself generously all over my shoes and pant cuffs. The Benadryl had not yet kicked in and, try as I might to force my lungs to work right, they just wouldn’t get with the program. Heart pounding, gasping for breath, slogging through mud, I finally made it to the bus stop.

I waited and waited for my bus. I might have waited twenty minutes before asking a nearby traffic cop if bus 564 still stops at this stop. “No”, he informed me, “It now starts its run 3 stops further up the road.” Well, that’s not good, but its not all bad, either. My breathing was getting a little easier and walking certainly wasn’t going to hurt me, so I take off. Again, with mud leaping about, just waiting for the chance to adorn my pant cuffs and shoes. In addition to that, the ongoing road construction incorporates overhead ramps, so now I’m slogging through a tunnel under construction, as well through mud. Cars and trucks bumbled by. No sidewalk, of course. I’m sharing the road with the traffic.

It was a bit chilly in the tunnel, but luckily I still had on my parka and a light jacket I wear under my parka on cold days. It was not that cold a day and soon I started sweating as well as laboring for breath, even though I was in the tunnel portion of the construction and not getting any sunshine. I walked only two of the three stops needed to reach bus 564’s first stop, and then decided that I could not do this anymore. I waited at that bus stop for the next conveyance that would take me to the desired bus stop.

There goes one bus fare in order to ride two stops to get to Bus 564’s first stop. I stand and wait yet some more. Now I’m really getting sweaty from wearing what essentially consists of two jackets as well as thermal underwear, in full, glaring sunshine. Oh, and I forgot to tell you: I did not change my pants after teaching, so I’m wearing my work slacks out, and it is they that are covered in mud. I guess I’ll be washing clothes tonight; I have to have mud-free slacks for class on Thursday.

Again I wait for my bus, and again I am disappointed. I start asking random bus drivers if they go to Wuhan University as they stop to pick up passengers, and all of the them tell me that only bus 564 goes straight to that destination. One kind passenger told me that that bus no longer originates at that stop; I now have to go nearly to the train station to catch Bus 564.

In for a penny, in for a pound, and there goes another bus fare. I board the bus and ride 3 more stops, nearly to the train station. By this time, my disposition is not so sunny, but still: I hadn’t been out of the house in two days and I wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to go exploring, even though, by that time, I had never felt less like exploring in my whole life. Matter of fact, this was beginning to feel like tedium.

I checked the time: 2PM. I had been trying to catch a single bus for nearly 2 hours. Two hours, and I was still only a few kilometers from my house. Muddy, lungs constricted, nose running, and still no bus in sight.

Now comes Bus 609. If I remember correctly from my not-so-trusty website, this bus also goes to Wuhan University. Before I pay yet another fare I ask the driver if he goes to Wuhan University. He holds up two fingers, indicating the fare is 2Yuan. Apparently, he is one of those who, thanks to my appearance, hears English when I speak Chinese. I hold up my bus card to indicate that I know how much the fare is, and ask my question again. Again, that mythical Bus 564 is invoked. Again I wait and wait.

By 2:30 I decide that going anywhere is going to be a lost cause. Sure, I could still get on a random bus and ride it somewhere, but then I’d have to face rush hour traffic and crowded buses full of schoolchildren going home. I just didn’t feel like dealing with all that. I cross the street and get on the homeward bound bus.

Muddy clothes and shoes, uncomfortably hot and burdened with a heavy parka, breathing difficulties and a pounding heart, thee wasted bus fares and two and a half hours getting nowhere… That is a classic example of the Universe telling me that this venture is not a good idea.

The outing was not a complete waste though: I did manage to go by the store that carries my Pro-Biotic yoghurt and pick up a liter.

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