Monday, August 21, 2006

Putting them up and tearing them down

Or doing things in the right order

I like sewing, I like turning a flat piece of material into something someone can wear. I like cooking too, turning some powders and liquids and 'goo's into a nice rubbery piece of cake that looks nothing like the ingredients it started off as. With everything, though, I have learnt by hard experience, you need to do things in the right order ... otherwise you end up un-picking and un-doing and doing over.

Jian Kang Lu,

our street, has always had a charm of its own. The first time we were driven down this street my heart sank - what a grotty place, the back-side of town! The road surface is bumpy, the pavements are 'splooshy', and a whole lot of people live and operate their businesses on the narrow pavement area making it necessary to take your life into your hands and walk on the road. And there are dozens (literally) of pink rooms with friendly girls who pop out to invite you in.

But what was always unusual about this street is that for the most part of it there were actually three rows of big, shady trees. One row of younger trees were on the edge of the street, and then two rows of huge trees separated the car lanes from the bike lanes. Over the summer at least it gave it a real "green leafy" feel, despite the decrepitity of the rest of the street.

jian kang lu bus stop

Our apartments nestle at the corner of this street and Wu Ai Lu - and for our first four or five months here WuAi Lu was just a construction sight, closed to most traffic, most of the buses were redirected down Jian Kang Lu. Suddenly they finished resurfacing WuAi and planted instant big trees and it was a nice place to be.

When we head to work we tend to go out to Jian Kang Lu to catch a number 40 bus - infrequent though it tends to be, because it takes us directly from our gateway to the front door of our office.

Last summer we stood baking on the pavement in front of the construction wall where they were building some posh new apartments next to the bus stop. Then they finished and knocked down the wall, and we stood and shivered through winter next to the instant garden they planted there, (complete with underwear trees). The buses would come bouncing into the stop over the rough surface, splashing muddy water from the puddles all over the myriad of cyclists clinging frantically to their vehicles as they clanged and bumped their way through.

Then they re-bricked the pavement by the bus-stop! I spent several happy hours over several days waiting at the stop and watching the little men (especially one particular one-eyed elf-like man) lugging the pavers from where they'd been dumped and carefully laying them in a neat pattern.

Then they put up a new bus stop sign - instead of the old bit of tin wired onto a power pole.

And then, oh joy! They finally gave us a bus shelter! After nearly a year of standing around in the weather, we finally had a bus shelter.

But I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of it, it was only there a few days, then it was gone.

bus stop

That's where it was. Now we were all back to standing in line in the shade of the power pole like this lady is. I waited with her, and the bus finally came and we climbed aboard. But this was the day they started cutting down the trees in Jian Kang Lu. They hadn't closed the road, but there were trunks and branches and leaves and great gaping holes in the road, not to mention the heavy machinery that was doing the work.

The bus-driver - apparently taken by surprise by this development - found the road ahead blocked, but then he saw a space on the extreme left of the road (yes, they drive on the right here - mostly) so he wormed his way over there, and drove down the pavement for a bit. Then the bus jammed a bit between a couple of tree-trunks. Undeterred the driver scraped his vehicle onto the left-hand bike lane instead. Finding this blocked too, he headed back to the extreme right-hand side - through several muddy holes and over a heap of dirt - and drove on the pavement there for a while. Of course he wasn't the only one meandering back and forth. It was peak hour traffic and apparently no one had known they were going to start digging up this busy road today.

Of course its much worse now. They still haven't actually closed the road - as far as I can tell - but the buses have quit coming down here. I am so glad we are not living right on Jian Kang Lu, the noise at night time would be very hard to sleep through, we are three buildings back from the road and the machine noises are mostly drowned out by the dogs barking, squeaky bike brakes, doors slamming, doorbells ringing ...

All that you get used to. But I am totally puzzled by the lack of coordination between departments. The people who do pavements and bus stops obviously have no language in common with the people who do roads and drains. This is a level of incompetence I really only thought was possible in the west.

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