Greetings from steamy, steamy Beijing. I arrived in the city on 21 June and have been hiding from the heat by not really ever venturing outside since. But cabin fever has taken its toll, as has the more prosaic lack of an internet connection. Right now, I am sitting in a cafe in the Wudaokou neighborhood of Beijing, known for its student and foreigner population. The cafe’s name is Sculpting in Time, taken from a film by Andrei Tarkovsky. It was very quiet when I arrived at around 11 this morning (China time, exactly 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard) but now I’m sitting in the midst of the lunch rush.
I started this blog several months ago in name only, preparing for the inevitable postgraduate crash and exponential increase in free time. Right now, it will serve as a means of communication while I’m in Beijing, holding my various thoughts, interests, and ideas as they come to me. Right now, what’s foremost on my mind is one, the heat, ever inescapable, and two, the fact that English-language Wikipedia appears to be blocked by the Chinese Great Firewall. I am the least revolutionary person you’ll ever meet, but where am I going to look up World Cup rosters, salad components, TV series’ recurring guest stars and Japanese serial killers now? It is, perhaps unfortunately, a massive blow to my need to constantly look such information up. I’m really devastated, and while the internet will communicate that as dour, know that it is meant with the most serious sincerity.
Things are picking up around her; partially because I’ve finally decided to get off my ass and brave the heat, and partially because I’m meeting people who aren’t my grandparents’ age for the first time in 6 or 7 visits to China. I contacted a fellow Wellesley alum, Melanie Lum, who runs ML Art Source here in Beijing. She is a contemporary Chinese art consultant who works with a lot of the city’s artists, gallerists, clients, and other members of the art scene to get the word out about Chinese contemporary art. She has been very gracious in making introductions for me, and I am currently working on confirming an internship at a gallery in Beijing, thanks to her connections. I’m also looking into opportunities to improve my Chinese, which will hopefully take the form of finding some summer classes, or perhaps even a tutor. That’s still in the nascent stages, but I hope to get something going soon. If anyone knows of good programs geared towards overseas-raised Chinese, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’m looking for programs that really emphasize reading and writing, and not so much speaking.
Well, that’s about all for now. I’ve long finished my “冰薄荷茶” (peppermint iced tea), which tasted a lot like liquified Chiclets gum, and should be getting back. It’s a schlep to the subway, and I need to make those internal preparations to step back into the dusty oven that is my beloved Beijing.