I'm hanging out in my underwear in a hotel room in a city of 12 million people that, before today, I didn't know existed.
"Didn't the Chinese invent the lampshade?" Mitch muses.
When we talk about knowledge, I'm the kind of person who tends towards the intimate. I did a week-long bike ride across Wyoming because covering that distance in a car would be too fast. I wanted to see everything, know that state, at a rate of 13 mph. And that was just Wyoming.
I think there's something to be said for doing the same things or visiting the same places over and over until they're in your blood. For knowing someone for 20 plus years. For reading the same book every three years or so, to get to know it better. To see how the experience changes as you change.
When I left college, I said good bye to the local Shell station where we would make late-night beer runs. In Chicago, I marked the last run to the Broadway Dunkin Donuts with a heavy heart. These are not exciting places, but you go there enough and they start to mean something.
Data from Star Trek TNG described friendship as simply getting used to someone, but I digress.
To supplement this habit towards the ultra-familiar, I tend towards science fiction. I imagine running away to the moon or envision what would happen if gravity reversed, like, right now. (Us indoor people would get massive head injuries.) I make up stuff in order for things to seem new or interesting. (Today, for one day only, plants can talk!)
But it's weird because even though there's globalization and the age of exploration has been left to cave divers and astronauts, the world is full of the unfamiliar and even, flat out, unknown.
The 12 million people who live here know that Guangzhou exists (as do tons more, obviously). I didn't though. I have no stereotypes to assign it, no monuments to connect it to. Carmen Sandiego didn't come here, after all. And that's pretty cool.