Isolation and Newton’s Third Law.

I am probably the only white being within a 50km radius from my position of writing.

 

Scratch that.

 

I’m probably the only being within a 50km radius from this position on the couch (my couch is pretty sweet though, how I leave it every day still astounds me). Needless to say this means my own thoughts have been my companion these past few weeks (a terrifying ordeal). Usually I do okay and distract myself with various streaming movies, but some days it does suck.

 

Like the day I compiled all the Valentine’s Day dinners happening all over Beijing. Yet again I forgot to nab a partner for that chocolate-smeared, rose petal bordered, smushy smush day of the year. Oh darn. To check out things that I write you can click this word here.

 

I really am enjoying my internship though. Even the four hour round-trip commute isn’t bad enough for me to hate on it even a little. I love the subway far too much; every day there’s somebody new to judge look at. Two days ago I even made contact with one of these weird underground mole-esque folks like myself. An elderly woman, my guess is late 60’s (the age game in China is really difficult), stepped into my carriage with her husband/humanoid donkey – poor guy was laden with corn, nuts, milk, the perils of lower class China etc etc, and they soon became quite distracted reading the electronic map, I presume to figure out which stop they needed.

 

Now the thing about the Beijing Subway is it is quite good at being efficient, and really doesn’t give you much time to settle in for the ride.

 

You read that right folks, China can be efficient at some things!

 

I watched and waited for them to assume a bracing position via holding a pole or leaning against a wall, but it wasn’t happening. At this point I was observing all of this from a seat in the same carriage. A seat is worth more than gold for most subway passengers, and it can become an every-man-for-himself Gladiator situation during busy rush hours (there will be blood). With milliseconds to go before the subway lurched forward I stood up and placed myself behind the woman who had now become mesmerised by the flashing red dot (another signal that the subway is about to go). As it pulled away, with the assistance of Newton’s Third Law, the poor woman looked set to tumble right into the corn bag her husband had set down. I caught her (of course) and directed her to my now vacant seat, of which she kept refusing (I just saved your corn’s life you will damn well take that seat).

 

Good deed for the year = check.

 

In other news I laughed at the social justice being served to a blue Ferrari being towed off from Parkview Green (a mall I will soon do a write-up about) upon the dirtiest tow truck I have ever seen. Being an asshole in China is generally okay, but being an asshole with a very nice car seems to be where they draw the line.

 

 

That’s all folks, the tiger whiskey is calling me.

 

 

 

 

E.

 

 

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On becoming an adult.

I always thought there was a magical moment that happened in every person’s life, something very distinct and special, which instantly transformed said person from child to adult. I pictured it similar to a bolt of lightning, something fast and bright and filled with energy, so much energy that once hit with the magical ‘it’ moment you could never go back to being the same person as before.

 

Whelp, that wasn’t what happened, instead I was dealt the bolt of sickness and snow.

 

I’m going to blame it on the street squid I had a few days prior, though you were a tasty treat Mr. Squid, buying you in a land locked city like Beijing definitely meant you were not fresh off any boat nearby. Needless to say the next few days progressively sucked. What was also becoming more and more inconvenient was the fact that I was desperately in need of fresh fruit and vegetables and, you know, actual food (sustaining on gummy lollies and yoghurt was not going to cut it). Since it is still Chinese New Year the campus shops are closed for at least the next week, increasing my supermarket time from five minutes to half an hour.

 

Now this isn’t that big of a deal, I mean I was sick but not completely incapacitated, and a half hour return walk isn’t insufferable. I told myself I can rest for a mere 24 hours, and get right onto sorting life out as soon as I wake up the next day. Easy enough.

 

Aaaaaand then the cage snow came down! Winter, you betrayed me, I thought we had it sorted this year, you weren’t suppose to come (at least not until the next Game of Thrones season). It ended up being about seven or so cm deep (hush) but from my poorly perception this meant more travel time outside and an increasing level of uncomfortable-ness of which I was already measuring an 11 out of 10.

 

My choices as they stood were

 

  1. Survive off gummy worms and yoghurt until the avalanche disappeared.
  2. Go outside, lie on the ground, be one with the snow forever.
  3. Go outside, get groceries, go home.

 

And with every step to and from the supermarket, I grew. My adultness must have grown three sizes that day. By the time I got back home I felt like I could have filed taxes, or purchased a house, or joined a political party.

 

 

 

 

And then I re-watched the movie ‘Frozen’ cause let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that adult stuff. Yet.

 

 

 

E.

 

 

Temple Fair/Miaohui.

In China work is King. Your job is your backbone. Without a job you cannot possibly support a family, own an apartment, or possess a social standing. So when the all-mighty Big Brother (aka government) says ‘here, have some days off’ you bet your ass the locals get down on that decree.

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the biggest of these holidays; think a two week Christmas on cocaine (that’s not sugar dust on them doughnuts). During this festival an estimated 3.6 BILLION journeys will be made in the spirit of getting home to eat jiaozi and remind yourself how much you loathe love spending an intimate two weeks holiday with your family. Beijing, though being the capital of China, is not a city where many people actually originate. Most citizens of Beijing have moved from other locations (myself included) so during Chun Jie (Spring Festival) most of its population is responsible for a proportion of the 3.6 billion tallied travels.  As such it becomes a rather boring city to be in for this holiday with almost everything decent closed for up to two weeks.

One special thing that Beijing does provide for those who stay in the city are Miaohui or Temple Fairs. This tradition started during the Liao Dynasty, grew momentum during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, and hasn’t really stopped growing popular since. They’re a place for stalls of food and trinkets to be set up amongst the older architectural areas, and for people to walk around, buy meaningless trinkets, and generally have a good time in.

My co-worker Samuel and I were invited to go to a fair near Taoranting with a friend of another Chinese friend. The Chinese man who accompanied us spoke not a word of English, which made for some interesting interpretive dance communications later on. He drove us from our campus to the temple, which was really nice of him, and I learnt that traffic jams are a universal annoyance followed with the universal sound of ‘ughhhh’.

Our 10rmb admission was to be paid at the gate, and through the lantern encased trees we made our way around the temple at the walking pace of your general Chinese: very verrrrrrry slowly. We stopped to eat some tanghulu or sweet sugar coated hawthorne, some chuanr or kebabs (lamb and squid, of which no food poisoning was received yusss) and some fattening coffee from Yunnan (I bought some anyway, it was tasty).  There must have been some 100 stalls spread around the lake, a good proportion of them being food, with the rest selling trinkets like owl figurines, bubble guns, hand-held windmill spinners, magic cards, blow up dolls toys and every plush doll from the 90’s (there were even a few ET’s to purchase). The lake itself had been dammed at each bridge crossing, turning one large lake into four smaller lakes for skating on in winter. One little lake was open to the public with two snow machines erupting fake lemonade tasting snow all over the giddy crowd.

Temple fairs to me appear to be a very community concentrated, colour saturated, sensory overload of ‘fun’. It’s a shame that China feels it has to pack in so much of this carnival atmosphere into a relatively short timeframe before the drudgery of work for another 11 and a half months consumes the vast majority.

If you do end up in Beijing they’re worth killing some time in at least. The communities left in the city really do know how to let their hair down.

E.