Peter Hessler writes in his new book, Country Driving, that in China “forgiveness comes easier than permission.” This manifests itself in the most remarkable way as our driver navigates his own zen path toward the Great Wall, weaving skillfully through the sea of traffic and deftly communicating his intent to his fellow commuters in a kind of morse code for motorists. One short tap of the horn says “I’m right behind you”. A short followed by a semi-long announces my intent to move around you so stay where you are. A long means “Are you blind?” And so it goes. Our particular driver also used different kind of horn sounds to convey just how dangerous his next move will be. One is a kind of primitive wolf howl. The next a kind of impending death siren. Myself and my fellow travelers – Mark and Greg – adapt relatively quickly as we realize that we are in the hands of a zen master.
We arrive in Beijing to be greeted by Berklee alumnus David Mitchell. David has made arrangements for our visit and is helping with logistics. He has arranged for a driver to take us to our hotel.
Originally from England, David is currently living in Beijing and is a working musician and teacher. He speaks fluent Chinese and is a great asset to us in making this a successful trip. He arranges for the driver to take us out to the Great Wall. On our returning trip, we drive through a tiny country village. While stopped in traffic, we take photos of a restaurant advertising donkey meat and reservoir fish. Soon after we pass the reservoir…and a donkey standing patiently by the road, awaiting his certain fate no doubt.
Read more about Berklee’s trip to China: