Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Arrival

The Beijing airport was a hustling pool of humanity.   We were greeted with unapologetic stares.   We walked in a close group to avoid being separated, but we were far too American.  We didn't push enough so we found we were losing our place in line.  I have never felt so outnumbered.

(My poor Teddy may find his senses and sensibilities overwhelmed when we first meet him.)

After endless walking and being funneled through a booth that said "foreigners", a man studied our big noses and then opened our passports one by one.  He flashed a Caucasian photo at us and we dutifully pointed to the real life person.  The clickety slam sound of the metal stamp sounded menacing in our ears.  No words were exchanged, and with the sixth stamp we entered into China.

We walked some more and Ben commented he had grown taller leaving American and put on weight on the plane.  True, we both felt like giants.  Directionless, we followed the mass and found an airport subway. 

We watched groups push onto the empty cars and overspill the intended capacity.  Before the train moved its doors would clamp shut on someone's briefcase, boot or backpack.  The doors would open again and the people in the glass box pushed even closer together to accommodate the one too many.  The doors would shut again.  The train was off.  The next train the process was repeated. I can imagine there would be nasty lawsuits if subway doors shut on something or someone in America.  In China, schedules seem more important than individuals.  There seems to be a great impatience to the Chinese as if they were about to miss a golden opportunity.   When the third train arrived we knew what had to be done and rushed in.  It was frantic, but no one got separated.

Hidden Insight: Chinese make impressive ping pong players, because their bodies have been trained to react quickly due to the subway doors which might just amputate your arm if you don't.

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