Short Accounts of Things I’ve Seen Recently in Exactly 100 Words:
The white painted walls in my office are made of concrete, which makes them thumbtack-proof. Chinese tape sucks and Beijing air dries out the sticky-ness, so hanging drawings on the wall is limited at best. Enter the Chinese carpenter man who screwed 4x8 sheets of soft, dense foam to the walls for a pin up space. He does good work, but what is even more impressive is when he mounted the 6’ folding stepladder like one would a horse, legs over each side, feet on opposite rungs, and started walking across the room as if he were on stilts.
I heard an explosion like a bomb went off, and then smoke filled the air and poured into my apartment as I leaned out the window to investigate. A small hair salon three buildings from my apartment had gone up in flames. I think the fire happened first and the explosion came later because when I joined the mob of onlookers in the street to watch the firemen hose the flames, they only seemed concerned about pulling out mangled furniture, not bodies. The roof was gone, and only the walls remained. Now, three weeks later, the salon is completely rebuilt.
One night I rode my bike to Sanlitun to meet some friends for a drink. On my way there I saw a large group of people and police cars gathered next to a canal below the airport expressway. People were yelling and pushing one another around. The subject of the dispute was a body on the bank of the canal between the water and the road covered with a tarp. When I rode home, the crowd and the body were gone, what remained was a wet spot in the dirt in the shape of the person who drowned that night.
It hasn’t snowed in Beijing this winter. Not once. However last weekend I went snowboarding with some friends an hour outside of Beijing where they don’t have snow either, just artificial snow blown onto the slopes. This makes for a strange scene in the landscape….drab brown then bright white slopes. Normally when I ride a chairlift at great heights and think of horrible things like falling or getting stuck for days, the jump down to the white blanket below seems feasible, even safe. Riding a chairlift over rocks and scrub brush makes one explicitly aware that chairlifts lack seat belts.