Beijing, in the wake of PRC’s 60th

Arriving in Beijing this morning, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been to Shanghai and Hong Kong before, but Beijing seemed like a world away. The accent of its residents struck me as being noticeably more guttural than Shanghai, the people of Beijing refer a lot to other Chinese as being “from the provinces”, clearly considering themselves superior being the dwellers of the great capital. More security is noticeable when compared to Shanghai, and a visible sense of uncertain pride in the celebrations of the 60th which took place a few days ago on October 1st. We were constantly asked what we thought of the parade and celebrations, as if those asking were not quite sure how to feel about it themselves. They perhaps needed a validation of their halting sense of pride, or maybe an affirmation of their fears that the world hated the display and the over the top show of force. I personally liked watching the celebrations (on TV when still in Shanghai), especially the choreographed dancers, the marching troops, all chosen to be of the same height, with an impressive precision and timing, colors, drumbeats, the whole show. I am not analyzing the political significance of the occasion, just enjoying the show itself and the work that must have gone on behind the scenes to make it happen. The down side of the parade, however, is the leftovers and more specifically the props. We went to Tiananmen Square today, with great anticipation on my part, dreaming of what it might look like, it being soaked in history, the vast expanse of the place played over and over in my imagination, until we got there. I had to do a double take. All the photos and videos I have seen of the place did not prepare me for what accosted me once I turned the corner after the security check. Disney Land meets Rio Carnival and Macy’s parade. FLoats used in the 60th parade were cluttering the vast square, giant TV screens imposing in a number of locations across the place, rainbows, red, gold, yellow, every color known to mankind, on outlandish displays that transformed the historic square into an unlikely theme park. It was a bit unsettling yet a lot of fun to watch. It was great seeing the tens of thousands of Chinese tourists (from the provinces as our guide told us over and over) so happy with the colorful display, unsure of what to do with it other than take photos with the index and middle finger of each hand extended in front of the face in the customary pose in front of the papier maché and plastic models of chariots and patriotic scenes as well as models representing Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan-naturally. The atmosphere was that of families on their outings in this unlikely of all places, taping chinese miniature flags to their cheeks, thoroughly enjoying themselves and taking pride in their capital city. Traffic was impossible, so we walked a lot. I have to admit that I very much liked the family atmosphere of the experience today in Tiananmen Square and again in the Forbidden City. There is something to be said for such places as the forbidden city, having been the exclusive realm of emperors for centuries, to be now accessible for all those – Chinese as well as us foreigners – who get to take a look at what it must have been like to live like an emperor. The weather even cooperated. It was a good day in BeijingIMG_1846_2

Forbidden City, Beijing

Forbidden City, Beijing

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