Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Neutral

There are some things about Beijing that keep catching my attention, probably because they are different from what i'm used to. For good or bad, they are the framework of my typical days and are shaping my opinions and memories of this city already. Here's the first round.

GOOD: Elevators
From what I can tell, elevators in china are amazing. This opinion is offered as a seasoned elevator expert and my vast knowledge of their secondary functions, the ones beside going up and down. First of all, yeah, they go up and down. That's not so sweet. What is sweet is what happened once you're inside! Oh my, inside is a wonderous place! You know how tempting this little "close door" button >< is? You know how pushing it absolutely does not make the door close any faster? It might as well just be a suggestion. Well here, the reaction is instantaneous. Which is nice. But it can also be dangerous, for the Chinese are not accustomed to waiting and if you aren't in the elevator immediately after it opens, they will attempt to crush you. Also: if you accidentally press the wrong floor, you can unselect it by pressing that number again!!! Ok fine. You are unimpressed. I am far more amused by these things than you. But trust me, they are incredible.

BAD: Breakfast
I don't mean the hotel meal, which is pretty good: one fried egg, one piece of toast, some jam, bacon, sausage, some fruit, salad and coffee. That's a solid american breakfast. I'm referring to the ambiance. Picture this: you're just starting your day and enjoying breakfast. You're pretty content because by now, the hotel staff (which is abundant!) is accustomed to you and the staring is minimal. It's one of the few moments in the day where you aren't really being watched. You're relaxed. Then the music starts. It's Mandy, by Barry Manilow and it will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. <Oh Mandy!...> The worst part, other than the awfulness of the actual song, is that you know it's coming. You know it's two songs after Let It Be by the Beatles. < came and you gave without taking...> Somehow, you haven't had breakfast yet without hearing this song. <...but I sent you away, Oh Mandy!...> It's terrible. It's worse than terrible: it's a remake! The drum fills are all off beat and electronic unless, *gasp* it's the original?!? <... well you came and you stopped me from aching...> So now you're unable to concentrate and you hurry through breakfast because please, oh, please!, make it stop! <...but I need you today, Oh Mandy!...> I hate you Barry Manilow. You, I loathe. Maybe by writing this post and acknowledging you, you'll leave me alone.

NEUTRAL: Lip Smacking
I guess I always knew what lip smacking was, but most people i know eat with their mouths closed. Or at least they take care to chew silently. Lately I've been having lunch with 5 or 6 of my work friends at a place nearby. The foods really good and it's cheap. But every one of them smacks their lips when they chew. Y'know, the sound it makes when you open your mouth abruptly? I guess normally it would be weird if one person was doing that at a table of quiet chewers but here, I actually feel weird. So I do it too. I'm not proud of it. But it does get pretty amusing when you sit back and listen to the symphony of sound.


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