Tuesday, October 14, 2014


We are in Beijing.
Actually, we're in the airport, a gigantic structure with an intriguing slatted ceiling, way up there, and yellow flying buttress things holding up the curved walls of windows.
Everything is gleaming and glassy.
This seems to be the fad in Asian airports
There are also multitudes of shops with expensive perfume and purses and watches,  which also seems to be a fad in Asian and Middle Eastern and African airports.  Seriously.  56,000 yuan for a purse. 83,000 for a watch.
6.297 yuan to the dollar today, the young man in the Cathay Pacific shop informed me.
I prefer the Powell's Books store at the Portland airport.
One gets the sense that the cleaning ladies here are paid to watch you.  They are everywhere in their blue uniforms, wiping down the glass walls, squeegeeing the bathroom counters, refilling the paper towels.
I went in the restroom to redo my hair and brush my teeth.  The little cleaning lady squeegeed the counter, slowly coming my way, glancing at me out of the corner of her eye.
I thought, Please don't rush me.  I am dirty.
She squeegeed the counter on the other side of me.
Then she hovered and waited.
Finally I finished and gathered my things.
The cleaning lady smiled.
We got in to Beijing at some terrible hour and, compared to Chiang Mai, it was freezing cold.  But we slept anyhow.
After I woke up I went searching for tea, with my little tin travel teapot in hand.  Behold, a little water dispenser that sent forth hot, cold, or warm, your choice!
I pushed the buttons like it said.  The hot water didn't come.  Four or five people lined up behind me, waiting.  Finally a tall young Chinese guy reached around me, pushed this button once, held that one longer, and there came hot water and soon I had hot tea.  I was very happy.
Later, Paul wanted to take ibuprofen since he's still kind of sick, but he didn't have anything to drink.  I headed back to the same dispenser, since there were little cone-shaped paper cups and a drinking fountain right beside it.
I filled a cup.  Not enough to properly dissolve two ibuprofen, I was sure.  Since you can't set down a cone-shaped cup, I held it in one hand  and tried to yank another cup out the bottom of the two-foot-tall dispenser on the wall with my free hand.
Four cups came.
I pulled one off and tried to push the others back up the way they had come.
The entire dispenser lifted off the wall and started falling.
I stopped it with my shoulder and, with too many people watching, got it back into the slots on the wall with my one free hand.
The extra cups fell to the floor.
Another little uniformed cleaning lady quickly picked them up.
I carefully carried two cups of water to Paul, who took his ibuprofen.
I might have to send this to Jenny to post for me, since I can't open my blog here. And speaking of being watched...I get the feeling our internet use is closely monitored.
We can open Pinterest but not Facebook.
CNN but not MSN.
Emily's blog but not mine.
Word Counter but not Google.
Over among the purse and perfume shops is a lovely Chinese area with pagodas you can sit in to drink coffee, and an angled bridge over large lily ponds, and little tables with pretty squares of paper and a bowl of ink and two long brushes, where you can sit and practice your Chinese writing.
It is pretty and restful among all the opulence.  My sense is that places like this are spiritually as well as culturally significant in China.  Maybe Christians should borrow this practice from Buddhism, of making a place that is deliberately and intentionally beautiful and restful.

Quote of the Day:
"The film length: 10 minutes.  Along with the sowing."
--the sign on the little "4D Motion Square" movie booth to my right

1 comment:

  1. I love your observations. And I laughed imagining the water dispenser scene. :-)