Smitten with Beijing
“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.