Smit­ten with Bei­jing

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Haris Vongli

“Bei­jing makes me look small. This city is way too big for me,” I thought the first day I landed in Bei­jing. Ev­ery­thing was so dif­fer­ent, so wide, so enor­mous, so crowded. One district was as big as a Euro­pean coun­try.

When I started liv­ing in Bei­jing, I found a city packed with tem­ples, hu­tong, labyrinths and tight roads with lit­tle win­dows, wide pave­ments, lakes, trees, wa­ter lilies and na­tion­al­i­ties. The old and mod­ern were mixed, and noth­ing fa­mil­iar was in those writ­ten, de­signed and painted Chi­nese hi­ero­glyphs. There was also so much to learn from ev­ery sin­gle path and per­son cross­ing my path. I felt over­whelmed by emo­tions, the hos­pi­tal­ity and cheer­ful faces.

The food was also a chal­lenge, a cu­ri­ous planet of in­gre­di­ents and herbs, teas and cook­ies, most of which I never saw or tasted be­fore.

“Life here must be just like hot pot,” I thought. “A mix­ture of ev­ery­thing.”

“Af­ter all, isn’t life all about choices? Well, I should ex­pe­ri­ence the best of it,” I whis­pered to the city of the em­per­ors.

Crispy Bei­jing duck dipped in brown su­gar, the fa­mous dish of Bei­jing, be­came the dish of my dreams – the dish of all my happy days. I loved this city. I fell in love at first sight. The first night was to­tally con­sumed by the in­evitable jet lag. On the sec­ond day, I bought my first bi­cy­cle. Af­ter the sun went down leav­ing an or­ange and pur­ple glow in the sky, I took a ride around the Ts­inghua Univer­sity cam­pus to get to know my new world.

Amaz­ingly beau­ti­ful! Breath­tak­ing! A vi­sion! See­ing so many young peo­ple cheered me up. They are the source of the en­ergy in this city. This was the se­cret: an en­ergy hardly found in other cities. Bei­jing is too big for one rea­son. It has space for the many peo­ple look­ing for hap­pi­ness and love, and I have found so much hap­pi­ness and love. I found my miss­ing self here.

I got off the train sta­tion where I was not sup­posed to get off. I re­al­ized I lost track of time. I was lis­ten­ing to some of Jeff Buck­ley’s sweet kind of revo­lu­tion­ary songs like “Hal­lelu­jah,” “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” and the fa­mous “Lilac Wine.”

What a feel­ing! Get­ting lost! Free­dom! I con­fess, I ut­terly love Bei­jing.

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