New Information

I mentioned in my last post about the Indian shower design thing where they tend to leak all over the bathroom floor. Well, on my way to Shanghai yesterday I was sitting next to a Swiss guy who happens to be living in France but is moving back to St. Louis next week. Yuh…huh. Anyway, he had read an article in one of the Indian Sunday papers that mentioned just this exact phenomenon, but from the Indian point of view. Apparently, the Indian writer could not understand the European mania for keeping the shower water from running all over the bathroom floor. He thought it was a great thing to be able to have water run all over the place. He viewed it as some kind of exhilarating and freeing thing. I think it might have had to do with the fact that they didn’t have as much of it in India, but I’m not too sure because of my seatmate’s heavy St. Louis accent.

Anyway, don’t you love that? The thing I think is weird and crazy and maybe even a little backward and dumb turns out to be the thing they think is wonderful, and vice versa!

I have one other important discovery to share. You know how annoying it is to be near somebody on a cellphone who is having a conversation? How you can’t keep from listening to it even though you hate both yourself and the cellphone person because you are helpless against the pull? People are forever complaining about public cellphone users like, “I don’t want to hear about your underwear shopping experience or your lifelong struggle with flatulence!”

Well, I have new information. It is not because of what they are saying. That’s not the reason we listen against our will. I know this because I realized, while I slowly rotted from the inside out in various airports over the past couple of weeks, that I was incapable of ignoring people having cellphone conversations even when it was in a foreign language that I couldn’t understand.

That’s right, people. It’s not the soap opera drama of what it was like for her to break up with her lesbian girlfriend or the shockingly obtuse behavior of that store clerk (go ahead, take a side). It’s something about the noise. I don’t know what. But it’s something. Something in tone of voice that transcends the tonal patterns of different languages. Or maybe it just has to do with the fact that we know that they are on a cellphone (I don’t think it’s this one because lots of times I notice that I’m listening to the one-sided conversation before I notice the person or that they are on a cellphone).

I’m thinking maybe it’s the fact that the conversation is one-sided, but can I tell that when somebody is having it in Tamil or Tagalog or Urdu? And I wonder if I figure it out, will it liberate me from the tyranny of cellphone eavesdropping, or will it make things worse?

I think I’ll go spray shower water all over the bathroom floor.

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