Getting from A to B


Take a good look at the map above (and it works even better when you double-click it). You'll notice, by the design of the city, that there is no direct route between any two points.

It actually serves as a very fitting metaphor for the process of living here, of getting things done, in many ways. And it can be incredibly frustrating for the foreigner.

Some meandering examples:

  • a conversation with a relative or co-worker rarely comes to a quick "yes. Instead, a 5-10 minute circuitous route is required to arrive at what you both essentially agreed upon from the start

  • the purchase of a mobile phone takes weeks, with each subsequent visit to the store revealing another nugget of information of what you need to bring in the next time

  • without an EU passport, getting a job requires a work permit. But getting a work permit requires getting a job offer

  • asking for any missing cutlery with your food involves at least two trips; the first for your set, and the second for your dining companion's, who should've known better than to stay mute in the first place
Every society has its own internal logic and wisdom that baffles outsiders, I suppose.

Here, as in life, getting from A to B can be maddening and is rarely straightforward, but if you change your perspective you also see some other things along the route that you wouldn't have seen otherwise.