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.