Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Arrival in Beijing



Had such a nice smooth trip to Beijing today. Sham and Arian drove me to the airport and Arian and I read books all the way making it such an enjoyable drive. Lost a bottle of Tea Rose perfume that I was taking as a gift and that I had thoughtlessly packed in my carry on luggage and so it was confiscated in the current liquid phobic environment.




I read "The Inheritance of Loss" as recommended by dear colleague T. on the flight and so the flight flew by as I was so engrossed in the book. Very good book about globalization and immigration and class and political struggle.


I was aware and somehow comforted by the friendly but curt efficiency of the flight attendants, the gleaming cleanliness of the Beijing airport, the efficiency again of the customs officials, the policeman in charge of regulating the taxis into neat rows at the airport... so neat, so tidy, so safe and efficient. He asked me where I was going and I informed him I was going to the Asian games village which is soon to be renamed Olympic Village. The taxi I got into was sparkling too...the driver told me he had waited in line for five hours at the aiport and pleaded with me to tell the policeman that I was going to Wang Jing next time because then the driver would be allowed to return to the airport without waiting in line as this is a closer drive. I had a pleasant chat with the driver about the air quality, the growing number of cars in Beijing, where to buy wholesale items, about his child's schooling options. He told me that his child who is going into grade one next year will have to go to the neighborhood primary school but if you are wealthy enough you can pay for entry into one of the more famous schools such as Jingshan primary school and Beijing primary school. I asked him what the difference was and he informed me that the teachers in these schools were very famous and it is important to lay a strong foundation for your children because it is very competitive to get into good high schools and then university. The tuition is about 1000 a semester for primary school and he said that this was not difficult for him to pay. The best high schools in Beijing are the number 4, number 1, number 2, and number 3 high schools... seemingly in that order.


After such pleasant conversation along the super smart highway from the airport lined by neatly planted poplar trees we arrived at the most famous Peking Duck restaurant in all of "Peking"--Quan Ju De. Also sparkling clean with a line of slender qipaoed young women to usher you in and get you situated. It is common in Chinese restaurants to get your own private room and this is decorated luxuriously. It was in one of these lavish little rooms that I met my dear dear old friend and roommate in Macau, her husband who is now a professor at BeiShiDa and their little son Han Han. It was so good to see her. She looks so well and although it has been eight years since we last saw each other and have not been in touch much since then I felt as close to her as ever. I just wept to see her. it is interesting that I feel my capacity to hold love for precious people has grown over the years.

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