Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back to Normal

Since Sunday the alternating odd/even license plate numbers ended, with cars driving on the previously forbidden Olympic lanes.

Yesterday morning I took the bus to work in the morning and overall traffic wasn't too bad, I thought. Perhaps I could continue taking the bus...

After work I went by subway to Chaoyangmen area and for the first time since the Olympics, I saw vendors on the streets, selling street food and baby booties.

Things are slowly getting back to pre-Olympic days.

I thought it would be more convenient for me to take the bus home than walk back to the subway station, go two stops and then get the bus home. Now I wonder if it was the right decision.

While I got on the 420 bus right away, it then began inching its way through the streets. One of the bus assistants made someone give up their seat because a middle-aged woman was car sick. She hung onto the bars next to her and rested her head on her arms.

Since this bus usually takes an hour to get home from Wangfujing, near Tiananmen Square, I thought it should only take me about half an hour or so.

In the end it took three times as long.

Luckily I had eaten half a peanut butter sandwich and a mini Snickers bar to keep my hunger at bay.

But after I ate it I read domestically-made chocolate bars could contain melamine, which has caused a huge scandal in the Chinese dairy industry.

Oh great.

Today I went to my colleague's desk and saw she had packets of Mengniu milk, one of the top brands also found to have used the deadly chemical.

"Are you drinking that?" I asked, pointing to the accused milk.

"Yes. I have to," she replied. "Everything we eat and drink in China has some chemicals in it anyway. We have no choice so we have to eat it. And if we get sick, we get sick. And then if it's time, we die."

It was such a matter-of-fact comment she delivered half sarcastically and half in jest.

People here have no recourse when it comes to expressing their anger and concerns about food quality, or anything worth complaining about.

If they get too fired up, they will be put down, either by bribes or by some kind of civil detention for no real legal reason.

It's just all interesting how this is all coming out after a pretty well-executed Olympics and Paralympics.

Things really are getting back to normal.

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