whenever we travel for the day job, we always squeeze in a few things – see a museum (about to post on the lama temple), catch local transport (see below) and visit a supermarket to understand more about the culture (and stock up on fruit for jet lags hours – hello – like now – sigh ;-)
beijing subway = oh lord. CRAMMED. orderly. the only sounds coming from handheld devices on which people were watching television/movies as we shuffled in a very long line upstairs (no moving staircases here – everyone looks very fit as a result) and down corridors and up more stairs and down. weirdly (bet this was for the olympics in 2008) the audio track on the subway is in both mandarin and then heavily accented american-style perky “the next stop is for the lama temple!” but the strangest thing is how organized everyone was. as soon as the crowd surged (silently apart from the handheld devices burbling out chinese movies) down onto the platform, a long orderly line formed, as if by magic, there was NO LINE telling people where to arrange themselves (for the subway doors) – they just know. or perhaps that’s what the people SHOUTING IN THE MEGAPHONES (oh yes) were telling them (“LINE UP IN FRONT OF THE L’OREAL AD PEOPLE!” maybe ;-)
btw, team gloria adored being stared at.
especially by the children who are so frankly fascinated (any attention, people, we love it, don’t tell anyone) and just gape.
and then the groovy-out-there-punk-t-shirts-and-pink-hair people – we love them too – they recognize a kindred spirit as soon as they spot the doctor martens. we grin. and nod. in a “hey man” kinda way. it’s gorgeous.
so – once on the subway – crammed into a tiny space – anti-perspirant alert! there’s no actual personal space. and no one seems to mind. no creepy stuff. just squished up against everyone else. and nobody talks. people just watch the television promos on the subway car walls (yup, moving images are everywhere). and then – halfway through the tunnel something fabulous happened……….
ADVERTS APPEARED MOVING ON THE TUNNEL WALLS!
yes! projected onto the tunnels outside the train – actual television ads!
you know what……? this place is exactly like Bladerunner.
it’s like someone from the Party (and we don’t mean up in the hollywood hills) saw a screening of Bladerunner back in the 80s and said to his/her (hey optimism – Mao said that women hold up half the sky) compatriots:
“wow. doesn’t that look cool? let’s build that!”
and – people – they did. right here.