Monday, November 27, 2006

1 (Lampedusa's Curse)

It has been a stressful morning. And note that I am writing this at 11h13 a.m. Yes. Tecnhically speaking, morning is not through yet. And yet it has already been stressful.
We were having breakfast. Daily aubade was on: the less than pleasant symphony of klaxons around the corner. You maybe don't know, dear reader, but klaxons are a Mexican institution. Actually, I start to believe that they were invented by a Mexican, with the sole purpose of making his fellow countrymen happy (he was not thinking of the fellow countrywomen, for, he thought, they belong in the kitchen. Still, they also play their klaxons as if they were violins. No: trumpets. No: tubas).
"Traffic is going crazy today", he said.
"When didn't it?", I asked in reply.
"No. I can hear it is unusually bad."
Unfortunately, he was right. I should have believed him: he is the Mexican of the couple.
Now, we both are stubborn. But, as I wanted to be kind, I "won" the argument on driving or not driving him to work. Let me explain: for a matter of principles, unlike most medium-class Mexican people, we share one car. We really don't need a second one.
So, being stubborn and kind, I drove him to work. No big deal, I thought, it is only 10 blocks away (10 blocks is really nothing here). But, gosh, what 10 blocks.
My "favorite hatred" in Mexico City is traffic. My favorite hatred within traffic is people that block the crossroads just because... No. I don't know why they do it.
That can be out of sheer wishful thinking, "Go, go, cabrón, move a little bit, so that I will be able to cross myself, before the light turns red".
Or, as my husband sustains, "it is ignorance". People are not aware of the consequences of their blocking their perpendicular fellows' ways with their cars and SUVs. It is, I must admit, quite plausible: after all, the whole procedure to have a driving license here is to sign a paper swearing you can drive; fill into a form; pay for the license; have your picture taken, and voilá: here you have your license, sir, madam, and it is de por vida, yes, valid throughout your entire lifetime. (Al least it is not recognized as an official I.D.)
Being a pessimist, I stick to my own hypothesis: people block the crossroads simply because they don't care. Les vale, as with most things here. Mexican people can be highly individualistic. It is not their problem if they are getting in your way, as long as they feel closer to the end of their own ways.
Eventually, I dropped him, after my own private victory in a battle over a crossing of two big ejes (axis, as they call the main, longer avenues that compose the basis of Mexican traffic mess, sorry, structure).
But the war was not over.
I managed to cut out the worst part of the problem by avoiding the ejes on my way back; I only had to cross one, but it was easy, compared to what had happened before. I was one block away from getting home again, eager to park my car and take a walk, protected by the shadow of the palm trees that, agains all odds, grow in my neighbourghood.
And then this stupid woman just blocks the small street I was on. And that, as always, just would not help her in any sense.
I assumed my Mexican self for one moment and played my klaxon hard. And again.
She assumed her Mexican self, stronger than mine, for it was authentic, and put on her me vale face. Cold-blooded, they are.
Green light. She moves. I turn left. Red light. She stops. And I get stuck.
The road being narrow and she being selfish and a bad driver, when moving awkwardly forward she had occupied one and a half of two alleys. Plus, there was an car parked on my left. I could try and pass, but that implied a huge risk of crashing my car into hers - or, worse, into the parked one. So I played my klaxon again. Hard. On her. But that proved futile, for she simply could not move farther.
Also, my mechanical fury revealed to be not enough when I saw it, shining proudly on her rear window pane. There was the sticker: "Felipe Calderón".
"You had to be a panista, pendeja!" I am not sure she could listen, her window being closed. But for sure she could keep her phlegmatic look.
As you may know, Calderón, PAN's candidate, got elected Mexican president last July over the second contender, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a.k.a. AMLO, from the leftist coalition "México por el bien de todos" (Mexico for everybody's welfare, or something like that), with a differece of less than 1% of the valid (sic) votes.
Now, I do not vote, as I am not a Mexican. I do not think López Obrador was a good candidate. I just think Calderón was much worse. And I would never have voted for him. The reason for that bears an intimate relation to what was taking place this morning, around the corner from my house. People who voted for Calderón include those who voted for Fox, who promised the cambio (change) six years ago. These people probably feel that, for their individualistic purposes, Mexico has changed. Or, better yet, it hasn't. They simply wanted and want everything to keep still.
Tomasi di Lampedusa cast a real curse over the Western world when he wrote, in his Gattopardo, that everything should change so that everything could keep the same. With that, the Italian writer stole from us any possibility of ever believing in a revolution. Or in any real, if small, change.
The people that voted for AMLO were defying Lampedusa's curse. The other half, those who voted for Calderón, were approving of it. Everything has to keep being the same. So that I can continue to block the roads. And to thunder my klaxon as if I were part of the metals in an orchestra. Basically, so that I can continue to say me vale and block other people's way, on the roads, or in life. After all, "I" is what matters.
Green light. She moves. She takes my street. I take it after her. All the way playing my klaxon hard and harder, as she gained velocity and escaped from my rage.