China Daily

A better Beijing in the Year of the Rooster?

- Contact the writer at Siva Sankar Second Thoughts

Could “beginner’s luck”, or its variant, apply to newcomers in a city?

And, would such luck diminish progressiv­ely with each passing month? Stated differentl­y, do people stop noticing, or take for granted, positives about the place where they work and live after a while? Or, do they fall out of love with the perceived positives and begin to discern the notso-pleasant aspects?

Such questions fill my mind every time I read or hear accounts of my new colleagues and acquaintan­ces in Beijing. For answers, I haven’t attempted to ransack sociology, urban studies or psychology bookshelve­s in any library yet. (I suspect there must be some tomes on the subject out there, possibly by disgruntle­d 34-year-old PhD types in a desperate hurry to finish their theses so they can start their adult life as deputy assistant associate professors, or some such grand-sounding positions, and work their academic way up the university ladder.)

Anyway, the Great 21stCentur­y Smog notwithsta­nding, almost every one of my new colleagues and acquaintan­ces from other countries appears to have something nice to say about Beijing, which has been my home since September 2015.

I certainly know where they are coming from — I was there not so long ago. Done that too. I still do. But …

But — there, the word has to butt in, you see — truth be told, some things could be better in Beijing.

Since the Year of the Rooster is almost upon us, how about making some Chinese New Year resolution­s (for others, that is) to make Beijing a better capital city?

You shall not disregard traffic signals: Beijing must be the only capital city on this planet where motorists ignore red signals and charge at pedestrian­s crossing intersecti­ons on green lights.

You shall not bare your potbelly outdoors during summer: Gentlemen, please note. Agree Beijing gets a bit hot between May and July, but to roll up singlets and T-shirts up to your moobs and walk around outside your home is taking things a bit too far (or up).

You shall not underestim­ate your own ability to communicat­e in English: “Sorry, I can’t speak English. I know only a little. You go straight and take the first right. Then, walk for about 150 meters and turn left at the signal. There, right opposite the defunct telephone booth…” Oh yes, you can speak English well. Very well.

You shall not park rented bicycles at deserted, undesignat­ed spots: Mobike and Ofo are such wonderful, helpful services for city folk. But inconsider­ate consumers could sound the death knell for the startups with their thoughtles­sness.

You shall not fleece cinemagoer­s: What’s the net benefit for patrons if you, the film exhibitor, offer attractive discount on tickets booked via websites or apps, but sell a 500ml bottle of water for 33 yuan ($5) at your refreshmen­ts stall?

You shall not walk away without cleaning up your pet’s mess on the sidewalk: Carry a pooper- scooper, please.

Happy New Year.

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