Maps, Mapping, and Google Maps II

Maps and I have a love-hate relationship, heavy on the hate part. I have trouble reading maps and it seems to me that they never understand the way my brain and my feet are wired. One thing is for sure, I am thoroughly convince that all the cartographers of the world and in history were all men. A woman would have designed a map with colour codes, shopping tips, discount notes, and quirky icons, not squiggly lines that represent rivers and roads.

frog1It is bad enough to have to find a new address in this crazy city on good days when the weather and the public transportation system cooperate with me, but during winter when there is permanent havoc, fog and darkness blocking logic and common sense, I end up having to find alternative routes, I struggle. To compound matters, I am at a complete lost when people give me directions here in Germany with sentences that contain the word Luftlinie (beeline, air distance). The other day I asked someone about the general direction of a restaurant I was looking for and he replied Luftlinie 800 meter – I swear I was ready to throttle him. I must have looked that way too because he smiled down at me and remembered I had no car nor am I a bird, so we did it the hard way and he explained it to me in terms of streets and bus stops. I was no wiser after the conversation, but at least I did not have to deal with the freaking air distance.

This afternoon I received another booking for a cat sitting, a referral from another client and when I asked about the directions the reply was Luftlinie 500 meter entfernt von mir (A 500m beeline away from me). What does that even mean? In which direction? How long will it take me to get there on foot or by bus? So many questions, too many bees, and no logic.

I was reminded of a time when I was expecting a friend for breakfast one day in Delhi. The appointment had been set for 09:00 and the night before I gave him detailed directions from his hotel to my home. He wanted to test his new motorbike at the time as well as the functionality of his GPS. I was ready with food on time, the table was set beautifully, and all that was left to be done was press the button for the coffee.
By 12:00 I put the food back into the fridge, and was on my second cup of coffee.
Finally at 16:00 he showed up in the foulest of moods and starving. What should have been a pleasant 45 minutes drive turned into a nightmarish trip around the city because the GPS was set to air distance and not vehicular (on the ground). The insensitive device had been sending him in a beeline through areas where there were no roads nor was it possible to drive through walls with a motorbike.

I have not found the restaurant in question, nor do I have a clue yet how to find the new client. Let us see where this leads me. As long as nobody starts giving me directions in nautical miles I am fine.

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