Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Beijing, China: Week 8, Part 5 (A Beijing Electricity Guide)

A guide on how to obtain electricity for your apartment in Beijing:
- Wake up in the morning, flip some light switches. Realize you have no power.
- Take a cold shower. In the dark.
- Grab your power & water card, run down to the power & water office, which is the downstairs in a different building
- Realize they don't open until 9a. It is now 7.
- Go back to sleep.
- Wake up for the second time, grab all your stuff and go put money on the card.
- Go to work.
- Come back, meet your mother who has just arrived from the US, and realize you still don't have power.
- Freak out about how your mom is here, and it's really hot, and you have no A/C and also the refrigerator is starting to smell funny.
- Call your friend, desperately, and make him run around. Feel bad about this.
- Shove card into every possible slot in the apartment. Expand search to outside of apartment.
- Finally find the electric meters behind heavy, steel closet doors.
- Insert card. Voila!
- Feel proud, even though it took 9 hours to sort it.
- Give yourself a headache thinking about what you're going to do when the water goes out.

Today was hectic; the smog seems to get worse and worse every day. Despite the close press of Beijing's heat, I can feel myself relaxing around my WCS coworkers, and talking more.

My mom arrived today. Even as I type she is asleep on the futon next to me. I drag her around - from my apartment, then onto the bus to go to my office, then to dinner (possibly some of the best jiaozi I've ever had) and then back to my apartment again. She is clearly tired, as it's the middle of the night in California, but she tries to focus when I do a messy job of explaining the bus system. I'm thrilled to have this time in Beijing with her, and I speak the most Chinese with her today than I have in the past months combined.

At one point I ask her, if we speak Chinese the same way. "I don't know," she says, laughing, "Go ask your friends." She asks me too, "So, are you an American or a Chinese, here?" I think she already knows the answer. I'm the hyphen. She is too.

The past few days I've gone to a Beijing Energy Network event and met people from WWF, Greenpeace and the UNDP. I met a Duke alum who is delightful, and her equally delightful Spanish roommate. I learned about US-China relationships in energy technology start-ups, and then met friends-of-Chinese-Nicholas-School students. I had a dance lesson, which was painful but deliriously wonderful, and discovered a lot of interesting things about Andrew's research on cancer drugs.

I decided today that I won't be coming back to the US at the end of August. I like it here too much. Maybe I'll stay in Beijing forever. If I had endless money, I would. If every week is like this week - dancing, meaningful work, good food, new friends - it will be a glorious life indeed.  Then again, it's only been six days. A flash in the pan, really.

But when I patter along these long, smoky streets, people wending and weaving like migratory birds, the fragrance of street food sifting through exhaust and heat, I sense that the stones underfoot and the buildings overhead are a part of me in a way that Durham, and even Los Altos, will never be.
Tags: family, travel - asia
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