Going with the Flow

American Enjoys Living in Hutong,volunteering in Community

Women of China (English) - - BLENDING IN |沟通 - YE SHAN 叶珊Photos by FANG FEI 摄影:方非

Near the southern entrance of Lotus Market, in Houhai, one of Beijing's famous tourist sites, there is a small, red house, in which volunteers give visitors sightseeing information and provide directions to various sites. Among those volunteers, there is an American, with blue eyes, who often wears a volunteer's armband and answers visitors' questions in English and/or Mandarin. He is Terry Crossman, who uses a Chinese name, Gao Tianrui, and a nickname, Lao Gao. Crossman has lived in Beijing for 22 years. During the past six years, he has enjoyed living in Beijing's areas, where he has witnessed the changes in the old city, and where he has made friends with his warmhearted neighbors.在北京后海荷花市场南口的志愿岗亭,经常会看到一位蓝眼睛白皮肤的外国人,戴着“志愿者”的红袖标,为游客悉心指路,介绍附近景点。这个外国人叫高天瑞,街坊四邻都习惯叫他“老高”。老高在北京生活了22年,近些年搬进了胡同,就是为了体验地道的老北京生活。老高眼中的北京,有着日新月异的变化,更有着胡同里难得的慢生活、人情味。

Crossman was attracted by the traditional quadrangle courtyard, in a hutong in eastern Beijing's Dongcheng District, when he visited the courtyard for the first time in 2011. The courtyard was nicely designed and decorated by a Chinese sculptor, who later moved to Germany for work. Crossman said he was particularly impressed by the beautiful wood carvings on the doors, and by the poplar

tree in the small yard.

"I loved my neighborhood when I lived in a hutong in Dongcheng District. There were small restaurants, a grocery store and a barber shop nearby, which gave me a true taste of the traditional lifestyle of the local people in the hutong areas," Crossman said. It was a pity, he added, that most of the stores closed to allow for urban-renovation projects.

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