The International Writers
Life in Beijing
Beijing a sleeping giant
can be a pretentious place, made up of drab apartment blocks,
smog and traffic jams. The air is dry and rain almost non-existent.
With the Olympics coming up next year and the Chinese economy
expected to become the worlds largest within a relatively short tiime,
Beijing is a place which will capture an increasing amount of
the world's attention
In Beijing, there is no real centre to speak of apart from Tiananmen
square, everything is very spread out. There is a drab functionality,
a make-do-and-mend feeling in contrast to it's glamorous and glitzy southern
sisters Hong Kong and Shanghai. Here government is the main business.
It's influence can be felt everywhere. Here, people seem somehow more
serious, maybe even more self important, security guards are more
officious, shop keepers more businesslike and bars more cliquey and
boring. Everyone wants to climb the social ladder. In Beijing guanxi -
the Chinese tradition of doing favours for people to get what you want
is hugely important, Making connections are the name of the game.
Preparations for the Olympics continue apace, new subway lines and stadiums
are feverishly being constructed. Will Beijing be a good host city? Who
can say? The choice to host the Olympics here had as much (if not all)
to do with politics as with the city's suitability. One thing is certain,
something will have to be done regarding the traffic problem. The world's
media and sportsmen and women will not like having to sit in traffic for
two hours to get to training or their next event. As for the pollution,
city bosses have announced that they will shut down factories surrounding
and within Beijing for three months before the Olympics - testament to
the governments determination that the games be a success. Though whether
this action will have any effect remains to be seen. (It will certainly
affect the local economy. Ed)
The ordinary people feel proud and excited about the Olympics coming to
Beijing. Proud that China will once again be the 'centre of the world'
and show that it will soon, if not already, be a major player on the world
stage and excited, excited to have this worldwide event held in their
city. The tickets are to be priced so that everyone can afford to
attend the events, so crowd numbers should be high.
Will Beijing grow into a great world city? It has the pedigree, the history.
Work is being done on an unprecedented scale to modernise the city's infrastructure.
New ultra modern buildings are being proposed including the 'digital building' from
where the Olympics will be organised.
For me though, Beijing is just too big and lacks the vitality and excitement
of other Asian and world cities such as New York, Shanghai, Sydney or
London. Certainly the people of Beijing have a lot to be proud of, the
Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, temples, the old neighbourhoods or
hutongs and of course the Great Wall. However, due to the events of the
past and the continuing tight control of everyday life by the goverment,
the city will be cloaked with a sense of fear which prevents
spontaneity and vibrancy. This means that until there is more freedom
in Beijing it will remain, at least culturally, a sleeping giant.
Life in Beijing 19 01 2007
It was after a rather heated exchange with my girlfriend that I found
myself staring at the flashing lights and loud noises of the computer
games arcade near our apartment. I'd just had dinner and with nothing
better to do and in need of a bit of stress release (which could involve
shooting as something) I decided to give it a go.
I walked in and had a quick look around, it wasn't particularly busy,
there were the obligatory spotty teenagers and a few older guys, whom,
without wanting to judge were probably single accountants or IT consultants.
There were shooting games, racing games, fighting games, skiiing games
everything you could possibley do on a computer. I decided I was not goint
to have a shot on any of them otherwise 'Hey daddy, look at the laowei
who's just fallen off the jet ski machine', how to create a crowd in five
seconds! I'll just have a shot on the shooting games I thought.
I went to get my coins and came back with what seemed like an inordinately
large amount of change for 40 rmb. I picked the game with the biggest
gun obviously, it involved shooting robot aliens, each level was a different
location, the strip in Las Vegas or an underground bunker in Yosemite.
The aliens swooped here and there on their flying scooters as I picked
them off using the tactic of pull the trigger and don't let go as the
gun vibrated manically. I quickly became absorbed in blasting the hell
out of them, I stopped myself and tried to regain composure, but I felt
my pulse getting faster, my grip tightening on the barrel of the gun as
I blew away the virtual cyber warriors! I reached level three but was
killed so I had to put more money in. There was a countdown which made
me panic. My fingers fumbled with the change and wouldn't work properly,
I couldn't get out my money! If there hadn't been a countdown it would
have been fine, if for example the computer had said 'You have one minute
to put in change, we'll wait, don't worry, take your time, I'm not going
anywhere' that would have been fine, but no '10, 9, 8...'. Finally I put
some more coins in and continued my intergalactic fight against terror.
When I had finished I realised I was hooked, I went onto the drumming
game, the boxing game, the skiing game and even played a basketball game.
I was having a blast! It was all so cheap too, only about three rmb per
game, so my 40 rmb lasted a long time. When I finally ran out of money
I was hot, sweating and had a racing pulse. I picked up my jacket to leave
and noticed a big, sticky patch of gob all over the inside - I'd put it
on someone's spit. TIC I thought (This is China). It was a small price
to pay for an hour of unadulterated pleasure though. I'd reconnected with
my inner child 'Til next time robots' I thought - 'I'll be back', and
then I went to the toilet and washed the gob off my coat!
© Paul Haire Jan 2007
paulhaire at hotmail.com
The Art of Drinking Tea
Paul Haire in Beijing
Not so long ago I decided my spiritual side
needed some fine tuning and so I would go to a tea ceremony, led by a
Zen buddhist 'expert' at the Chinese Culture Club of Beijing. more
being Uber Cool in Beijing
I am unemployed once more, as a result I went out last night to a bar
in Beijing recommended to me by a friend in an attemp to drown my sorrows.
It was located obviously in the allotment in front of Beijing's drive-in
cinema (where else?) an auspicious start, non?
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