One of the best things about Beijing is the taxis, or more specifically the hearty guys (rarely women) who drive them. There's something about them - they've been around the block a few times so they know you the moment you sit down. Most of them love to chat and they have great stories to share. And you can share all kinds of crazy stories with them and know that a few hours later over potstickers and beer they will share your story with their friends, who will share it with their friends, and suddenly you are even more intricately woven into the colorful tapestry that is Beijing folklore.
And it's all anonymous. That's good for us introverts. Or maybe it's good for the paranoid among us, either way it's a good thing.
I love it when my husband drops me off somewhere to get a cab. The same conversation always ensues.
The cab driver asks me where I'm from. I say I'm from America.
He asks me if that man who just dropped me off is my driver. I smile and say he's my husband.
The driver asks incredulously, "Your husband is Chinese?" I smile again and say that he's born and raised in Beijing. (Have you ever noticed that lots of Chinese girls hook up with Western guys but it almost never goes the other way around? I have many theories about that, that'll be a whole other post some time.)
Then 9 times out of 10, the driver turns around - don'tworryaboutthosecarsinfrontofustheywillswerve - and gives me a big THUMBS UP sign and says "zhen bang!" which means something like "great!"
Which is so sweet. Buddy and I have wondered together what's prompting the thumbs up. Is it that I'm married to a Chinese? Is the thumbs up for him, that he's married to me? Is it that an American and Chinese would marry? Is it a sign that relations between China and America are getting better and better? Is it overall world peace? We have no idea.
I tried asking once.
"What's great about that?"
"It's just great," the driver replied. "Zhen bang!"
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I have no idea why but I'm bang. Or we are bang.