Last chance to see by Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine

Last chance to see by Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine

Author:Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine [Adams, Douglas]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: sf

Blind Panic

Assumptions are the things you don't know you're making, which is why it is so disorienting the first time you take the plug out of a wash basin in Australia and see the water spiralling down the hole the other way round. The very laws of physics are telling you how far you are from home.

In New Zealand even the telephone dials are numbered anticlockwise. This has nothing to do with the laws of physics - they just do it differently there. The shock is that it had never occurred to you that there was any other way of doing it. In fact you had never even thought about it at all, and suddenly here it is - different. The ground slips.

Dialling in New Zealand takes quite a bit of concentration because every digit is where you least expect to find it. Try and do it quickly and you will inevitably misdial because your automatic habit jumps in and takes over before you have a chance to stop it. The habit of telephone dials is so deep that it has become an assumption, and you don't even know you're making it.

China is in the northern hemisphere, so its wash basins drain clockwise, like ours. Their telephone dials are numbered like ours. Both those things are familiar. But every single other thing is different, and the assumptions that you don't know you're making will only get you into trouble and confusion.

I had a kind of inkling that this would be the case from what little I knew of other people's experiences in China. I sat in the plane on the long flight to Beijing trying to unravel my habits, to unthink as it were, and feeling slightly twitchy about it.


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