The ongoing thoughts of an art teacher in China - and home in Sydney

A continuing diary about my travels in China, and thoughts about China and Chinese art from home and abroad

Saturday, October 5, 2013

北京日记 Beijing Diary

Chaoyang Park under Beijing Sky, 10.00am
While this blog focuses mostly on art and artists - reviews of exhibitions, interviews, studio visits and general ruminations as I make my stumbling Australian way through the Chinese contemporary artworld - it also is a place for my observations about life in China. I veer from being impressed, intrigued, amused, appalled, to utterly mystified - and all in the space of a few hours!

Today I have experienced the worst air quality I have yet encountered in China - although I know it gets much, much worse than this.
View from car window leaving Songzhuang at 4.00pm
I returned home after a long and dusty drive to visit an artist in Songzhuang feeling exhausted and overwhelmed; flattened by trying to make myself understood, and concentrating so hard to understand just fragments of what is said to me. And then was heartened by the beaming smile of the man who walks his small dog each evening in my street, and his friendly "Ni Hao". And amused by the young salesmen in their sharp suits and even sharper haircuts who lounge in studied poses on their motorcycles outside the real estate office checking their phones. Despite the unbelievably awful air quality they were still chain smoking energetically. As were both the customer and the barber doing a spot of evening haircutting on the footpath outside the shop. You've got to love the indefatigable Beijingers. I asked my young translator today, as the car sped past willow trees growing along the Airport Expressway, "how do these trees even survive in this atmosphere?". She laughed and said, "They were born here -  like us!"