Yesterday I found an interesting variety of soap sourced from Pondicherry by a relatively local company. It was hand-made and designed for people with my skin type. After a quick sniff I concluded that, despite having a slightly herbal odour it would do and bought it. After opening the box I realised the gravity of my error. It was tightly wrapped. People could inhale the noxious fumes from 3 yards away! Not being one to waste, I’ve started using that soap to the most amusing reactions. It’s really a very good soap and even after a single use my skin looks healthier. The only problem with it is that I smell like an Indian Madame. I’ve changed my name to Miss Lakshmi and am now in purdah.
This does, however, give me time to write a long delayed post. Our boy, Chinese Lad, arrived as threatened. Naturally, he arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon. Peak hour traffic in Sacramento is something to behold and is not easily forgotten no matter how many years of therapy one undergoes. For those who have never had the pleasure of driving in the Golden State I shall briefly explain the various driving styles one can expect to find. In Los Angeles speed is of the essence. Traffic permitting it is almost possible to see cars lifting off the ground. In the San Francisco region all the bottled-up rage associated with having to be perfectly PC at all times manifests itself in the most aggressive, violently confrontational way of driving imaginable. Are there 2 inches between cars? Perfect! Another 10 drivers will fit themselves in with not a thought given to the use of indicators! In the rural east drivers are far less aggressive and, perhaps due to the advanced age of many, speed is no longer a concept readily understand. But what the rural east lacks in aggression is more than compensated by idiocy. I’ve frequently wondered if many drivers found their licences in boxes of Red Rose Tea. Sacramento drivers have found a brilliant way to synthesise all three of these distinct driving styles into a vehicular monstrosity.
Chinese Lad behaved himself surprisingly well. He minded his Ps and Qs for over two weeks. We had a number of discussions concerning my hasty departure from China. I realised that his betrayal was not intended as such. He is loud, brash, malodorous and lacks all sense of decorum; but he has not an evil bone in his body or drop of malice coursing through his veins. He sincerely believed that no matter how inconvenient, the Chinese would look out for my interests and try to help me. He did not grasp how toxic things were. He’s a terrible liar. He’s childish, innocent and believes that people are essentially good. It’s endearing, if not grating when faced with the harsh realities of life and human nature. He meant well which frustrates. Hunland became unbearable. He thought that he could help me escape that hell and give me an easy, often fun, job.
After he returned to China he checked to see if my severance pay was deposited – it was not. He telephoned the local company manager who claimed that they deposited that sum into my Sparkasse Trier account despite my explicit instructions to the contrary. I am unable to access that account from North America. I cannot use my bank card as it requires prior notification for that option to be made possible. Nor am I even able to check balances online. The rudding Huns have devised a contraption to make what should be a simple process complicated. I would have to use a portable chip reader and enter my pin into that while logging in to their website. I binned that before leaving Germany having never used it successfully. I was able to transfer at least a large portion of my severance pay to my California bank account. I am not especially amused by the fact that I had to effectively exchange euros for US dollars only to have to effectively change US dollars back into euros when paying fees due in Spain prior to leaving for Denmark. Still, despite the annoyance and hassle I will be able to go to Spain as planned and will be able to visit a few great cities prior to starting work.