Impressions of Beijing

Alex Wille

It seems the Beijing people fall into several distinct categories. For instance, there are the small children, who are uniformally adorable. The little girls all come equipped with dual-action pigtails and toothy grins. The little boys seem to
spend most their time peeing on the sidewalk trees. They go about in a very business-like way, finish and stroll off smugly. Sometimes elderly men do this as well.
Of the young adults, there are two main sub-varieties that I encounter regularly. Students and Xiaojies. Students tend to be good natured and very thin. They often come from rather far away and so have peculiar accents. The Graduate
students live four to a room, the undergraduates, eight. The rooms are, in general, the size of my Ormsby single. Our Xiaojies are young women in their twenties from Beijing City and Environs who do desk work, housecleaning and so
on. They all wear striped shirts (a bit like those found on Perkins employees)and have ponytails. They travel in packs and laugh frequently. Every night there is one sleeping on the floor of our lobby.
Beijing Cabbies are friendly and inquisitive. They are often difficult to understand, as they tend to have that thick Beijing brogue. (Add an “-r” to the end of every third word.)Also, they are occasionaly utterly insane and operate their
vehicles as though they studied driving by playing Crazy Taxies at the local arcade. I have, however, yet to see a car that looks as though its been in an accident.
Periodically, one sees city works who wear blue jumpsuits and surgical facemasks. They merely sweep things here and there with very large, Halloween-Witch style brooms.
Finally, there are the elderly, who slowly meander about with their hands clasped behind their backs, minutely examining things. They have wispy white hair and wonderfully wrinkled, browned faces like old fruit. When they smile they
rarely have all their teeth.
I’m not yet sure where I fit in.