The View from a Car

by Tatiana Luna

The view from a private luxury sedan in China is quite different from the view when you are walking the streets or taking public transportation.  Get into a car, turn the air conditioning on, and suddenly you are insulated.  A padding of safety and comfort give the view a new possibility of beauty. You can just enjoy the variety of sights — beautiful, ugly, they can both be interesting– without dealing with the mess that is China.  In a car, you are saved from the smell, from the feeling of inhaling car exhaust, from the sensory overload of sound and movement.

Seeing a man with a bike loaded with dirty styrofoam seems almost too absurd to be real when sitting in a Mercedes Benz.  What is that man going to do with that teetering tower of styrofoam? I think.  How can he even reuse it?  I cannot imagine such a thing being valuable to me at all, and I look over at my driver, a middle-aged Chinese mother of three and wife of a very successful factory owner, and imagine she doesn’t even see the little people anymore, since she sees this view from a car everyday.

The private car is one of the most effective walls built between the rich and the poor in this country.