Beijing: a ‘magic’ city – 邂逅北京:一座“神奇”的城市? – English

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New year brings new things. Time flies, age grows. Though I don’t want to admit, 2013 has already come. Looking back to 2012, what impressed me most was Beijing. Not until this year did I step into this magical land — Beijing. It’s crowded and you may not like some of the people, but it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t mean that I show special preference to Beijing. On the contrary, I am a little ‘numb’ to it.

What’s magic about Beijing, except for its crowdedness?

I admit that Beijing is the most crowded city in China. No wonder we talk of “capital crowds”. I don’t want to say too much about Beijing history, because it is the “past tense”. A hero is silent about his past glories. Qian Zhongshu, the deceased Chines master, said in Fortress Besieged ,”the people downtown want to go out, while the people outside want to come in”. Beijing is exactly contradictory.

Yesterday, when chatting with a civil servant at home, I talked about life in Beijing. I told him I had to spend three to four hours on the way to and back from the company, just because of the “weird” traffic. Actually the time consumed is sometimes just a conservative figure, including the accidents. His first reaction is that it is incredible. And he asked back: “How could you still stay in Beijing not caring about all of this?”

Here, I want to address one point, in Beijing, everyone is the same. But why shall we stay in this city? Five words: ”Not satisfied with the situation”. Taking my friend, the civil servant, as an example, he can’t stand my experience in Beijing, he even suffocates a little. So, he stays in his hometown, taking a lower salary and doing a decent job.

Ask a question:” in Beijing, what is the difference between 2000 and 20000 per month”. In my eyes, there is no difference. It doesn’t distinguish the identity of people “adrift in Beijing”. Their common point is the wish to experience this place, not leaving sadness for their old age.

The magic of Beijing lies in the hone the majority pursues. They all know where they come from, and at last, they will go back. It has the similar meaning with “falling leaf going back to the root”, which is not a controversial fact.

There’s a dream quality in the “special love”, but now, what about the numbness?

I remember when I was young, I had a very big dream, I wanted to go the Tiananmen Square to watch the flag-raising and climb the Great Wall. I was too naïve at that time, and I always thought that Beijing was not reachable. Things outside my life always seemed rare, especially in Beijing. But now, this dream is not a dream anymore. At present, when I recall the past, I can’t stop laughing at myself

Now I take the subway line one, and every day I walk through Tiananmen underground, without feeling any passion. Even when my friends invite me to climb the Badaling Great Wall, I’m not interested. In memory, the palaces in Tiananmen are in shred sand patches; Badaling is stuffed with people. How could I relax there?

Distance makes beauty. When you have it, you become choosy. And numb is simple common sense. AS a result, you may have a feeling of “happiness and sorrows”. This, in fact , is the charm of ancient capital, which helps you grow in torment.


Everyone coming to Beijing has a dream, either big or small. For Beijing, it’s magic enough. After all of these years, her charm is still shining, No matter when and where, remember that experience is a piece of wealth. The “wealth ” can be either big or small, it depends on you.

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Source : Zhao Qiang blog

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact