Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cosas que uno nota volviendo a casa en la moto luego de un dia poco productivo en la Universidad

Un carrito de tracción humana visto desde atrás, desde la primera fila de una luz roja, tan grande que uno no distingue si su piloto es joven o viejo. El vaivén es igual de lastimero. No dispone de reflectores, ni siquiera de CDs adosados a la carcaza. Las ruedas son bandas de metal irregulares y dobladas. Es tarde. Probablemente vive muy lejos. A dónde va? Aparte de la canasta rota, el bidón sucio y otras cosas colgadas externamente, qué llevará en el carrito?

La luz de peatón se vuelve intermitente. Aumento levemente las revoluciones del motor. Al mi izquierda, un taxi. Los taxis son más relajados al salir de una luz roja, no gastan combustible innecesariamente. A mi derecha, una camioneta del año, grande. El conductor viste camisa y corbata. Vuelve del trabajo a su hogar. Probablemente partirá con mayor ímpetu. Esa es la ironía: los pequeñines que se compran los vehículos más grandes generalmente los manejan de la manera menos eficiente. En conclusión, usaré la pista izquierda luego de partir.

La luz ámbar de la vía cruzada se prende. Revoluciono el motor otro toque, con la punta de mi bota bajo el pedal de cambios otra vez más, revisando si estoy en primera. Con el pulgar izquierdo reviso si los intermitentes están apagados y si la luz está en alta. Es un tic.

El carrito ha logrado avanzar unos metros durante esta luz roja. Me pregunto si lo habrá visto el energúmeno de la camioneta. Supongo que sí.

Da la luz verde, y salgo. Mi pequeño motor de 125 cc me da la salida que necesito, y gradualmente me coloco delante del taxi. La camioneta parte relajadamente, y voy solo delante del pelotón de vehículos.

All clear.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Av. Belen 140

Rule #1: Things never seem strange when you're born into them.
Rule #2: Take it from there.

Think back to where and when you were born. Think of your earliest memory. Does it strike you as unusual, or odd? Some may find the memory itself odd, as in my case: I couldn't for the life of me explain why my first memory is staring at my socked feet, raised in the air, and beyond them, our car's dashboard, and beyond that, the windscreen wipers and a hypothetical horizon that I couldn't see but knew was there. I was sitting in the front passenger's seat of an early 1980s Lada, an outstanding example of Soviet Union mechanical crud, chosen by my father to be our second car. The sky beyond the windscreen wipers was often not even blue, but a drizzly grey, and the glare sometimes hurt the eyes. My aforementioned socked feet caused me a great deal of frustration. I remember I wanted to have shoes on. My frustration was so great, in fact, that it seems to have jump-started my long-term memory, and I've been piling on the trivia ever since. Now why on Earth would that be my first memory?

No, I don't mean "odd" in that sense. At the time, nothing was strange. That's the beauty of being born into the world. You're a blank slate, and then life comes along and scribbles something obscene on it, and it is only years later that you re-read it and blush.

I didn't find it at all strange that out of the seventeen million, seven hundred and fifty-five thousand or so people that were going about their daily lives at the time, not many could understand a word I said. These were new words, learned recently, and they worked perfectly with my mum and dad, and some friends at school, and their parents, when I peeked out from behind my mother's leg long enough to say something, if anything.

Neither did I find it strange that every now and then we filled the bathtub with water to flush the toilet. Or that we used a small camping gas stove to eat our meals at times and had candles dotted about the house, because you never knew when the lights would go out.

I don't recall any blasts. A few years after we left, the Chinese Embassy was bombed, apparently for not being "sufficiently Maoist" (this time with a very large blast, as opposed to the 1983 attack on the day of Mao's birthday. I guess they felt their point hadn't been made). It was in the neighbourhood, and I would have heard it, for sure. But it wouldn't have been that different from the spectacular fireworks displays and large homemade bangers let off around Christmas and New Year, or the ocasional temblor. It would have been a part of Life, and Life was new back then, and like everyone else my age, I just played as I went.