Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not So Bad After All

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of Reform and Opening Up, thanks to former leader Deng Xiaoping, China has become the world's factory.

But no one could foresee the current global financial crisis which has put a damper on the celebrations with factories closing, people losing jobs and consumers tightening the grip on their wallets.

Even though the factory closures are in southern China, people here in Beijing are pinching their pennies.

Fewer people are dining at restaurants, but a good thing is that fewer customers are wasting food. I used to see tables of two eating for at least four people and then leaving dishes barely touched.

There seems to be more people taking public transit these days, and squeezing onto a subway train takes as much patience as you can muster especially during rush hour.

Bus assistants seem to have shorter tempers too, constantly shouting at passengers to move to the back of the bus when we're already packed in like sardines in puffy nylon coats.

Almost everyone seems to be in a foul mood.

Yesterday I had a rough day, but not because of money. I caught a bus in the morning but when I wanted to get off, I was stuck behind some people and the door closed before I could get near the door. The bus drove off to the next stop which I got off of and I had to run back to my bus stop to catch another bus to work.

I didn't sprint, but jogged quite fast. By the time I made it to the bus stop, I was wheezing from the dry cold air.

After I got on the bus, thinking everything was fine, I checked my bag only to realize I had left my cell phone at home.

I thought I could live without it for the day, but by lunchtime I was itching for it and after I finished eating, I took the bus home and retrieved my phone.

For the rest of the day I was still coughing periodically which frightened me; was I developing some kind of lung problem?

I was relieved when my cough subsided and then disappeared after drinking lots of chrysanthemum tea.

After work I hunted around the Silk Market for Christmas gifts, and bargaining took lots of effort. However, my evening was salvaged after a delicious dinner that gave me some energy. I was too tired to face the subway so I took a taxi home.

And the taxi driver was so polite and quiet, and driving steadily, I felt like I was driven home by a chauffeur.

It renewed my faith in Beijing.

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