Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cardinal directions

Directions matter in the USA. The don't talk about mere lefts and rights here. There is always a "head south " a "northwest of three blocks down something or the other". I have always been faintly afraid of left and right. There's always a nano second of panic when I'm walking or driving and I'm asked to turn left. Which one is it, my brain frantically wonders. My left hand rises reassuringly and points it out. I can't walk ahead if I dont do that little wave to myself that says " Yes, Aggie,that's left. This is not the hand we write with" .
When I first arrived here, this mutation of two simple directions into a many headed hydra was baffling. So confusing, infact, that I dint even try comprehending them. I never asked for directions, I bumbled there myself. Driving here with the GPS was literally one thing off my bucket list. If I could translate head south on Happy Hollow Road to anything in the real world, I had achieved a personal milestone. I am amazed constantly at how most people know exactly where they are since these planned cities with their looping-the-loop interstates and state highways and whatnots are beyond my un-geographical brain.
In a new city, I find anchor points instead of memorizing grids. Mostly everything I know about a place seems to move in concentric circles around this locus. VT station in Bombay, Ben Hill Griffith stadium in UF, the Arch in St Louis,El Camino Real in San Jose. I feel that knowing some directions would be good though. Atleast in America,with it's neat grids and orderly roads, that would be the key to discovering a continent. All the odd numbered interstates that head north-south and the evens, east-west. I see a lot of road trips in my future,  largely a byproduct of have-awesome-roads, will-travel :)

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