Aside from a cold apartment, I have returned to a new office, which is also cold. There seems to be something wrong with the heating/cooling units in the lovely G-Box. With some of the thermostats, we get cold air no matter what temperature they’re set at. We’ve resorted to just turning them off in much of the office and wearing coats and sweaters, which seems like a pity in a nice new building. At least the carpets and the furniture are clean and we have room. And I can connect to a printer without having to play around with USB cables.
Just to bring you up to date on the progress, here is a series of pictures of the same part of the office.
10 AprilWe have a vending machine. It looks a lot like the ones I saw in Japan.
And here is my cubicle. Things to note:
- Astroboy (AKA Atom) – a souvenir of Japan
- Map of China so I won’t forget where I am
- Pennant that’s a memento of the Athens Olympics
- Dual monitors with a picture of downtown Tokyo
- Wallace and Gromit
- A pineapple, widely used as a sort of natural deodorizer, handy since the office smelled of paint when we moved in. We have dozens of them all around, though they’re starting to become more offenders than mitigators in the odor department. Pineapples are hugely popular here – you see vendors with carts full of them on almost every block. The fruit is a traditional housewarming gift, in addition to being a tasty treat.
The delivery of the boxes was an interesting event in itself. As it turns out, our lovely 15-story building does not have a loading dock, so everything has to be brought in through the regular doors on handtrucks or dollies. Furthermore, city regulations prohibit large trucks from city streets between the hours of 6:00am and midnight. Furtherevenmore, the security guards won’t let unauthorized people into the building and are not allowed to call anyone in the building to get authorization. So a portion of the boxes were delivered in a truck small enough to be allowed in the daytime, and when they arrived, the shipping company person had to call the box vendor and the vendor called us and we sent someone down to let them in the building. I’m wondering if the same situation arose when all the A/C units were delivered.
As I write this on 14 April, the weather has turned very nice, and my apartment gets enough sun during the day to stay comfortable almost all night. I’ve been opening windows from time to time to get a little circulation going. Leaves are appearing on trees, I can walk around without a jacket sometimes, and the Ewoks have been replaced by normal children.
And there’s an addition the Dramatis Personae. RR is another American expat, I think the last of the long-term non-Chinese employees. He arrived while I was in Japan, and now has an apartment in the same building as me. That’s five of us at Seasons Park. RR is currently overseeing the process of paper form data entry.
My first night back in Beijing, TG, RR and I walked to a nearby restaurant called the Red Rose, which on the sign is described as a Xinjiang Muslim Restaurant (that’s the farthest west part of China for the geographically challenged). The place is plastered with Budweiser signs, so we ordered Buds (the only beer listed on the menu). Yes, beer in a Moslem restaurant. But this is China after all, not Kuwait. Anyway, the food was really good, and before long the large restaurant was quite full. Then music started playing over the PA on the stage, and a dancer came out wearing a beautiful dress. The music was kind of electronic, with Middle Eastern and Indian sounds, and reminded me of a contemporary Bollywood soundtrack. When she finished, she swooshed into the dressing room and another dancer came out – belly dancing this time. After one more dance from each of the women, a trio took the stage, two acoustic guitarists and a percussionist. They were excellent musicians, with a style that melded flamenco guitar with Middle Eastern and reggae elements. They played a few tunes, then left the stage for the dancers’ second set. On one song, which I think was a well-known Bollywood hit, a man from the audience jumped up and danced on the stage. And for another one of the dances, there was a snake, and the dancer came out and danced between the tables. For some reason she singled out RR, pulled him out of his chair and handed him the snake, then pulled him up to the stage, where he joined her for the past part of the song. While he was on stage, I grabbed his mobile phone and snapped a few pictures. As soon as we figure out how to get them off the phone, I’ll post one here. The musicians played a second set, and when we left were still playing. Bottom line, the place was hopping on a Sunday night. And the dancers were much better at their craft than the ones at the Indian restaurant I’ve been to.
On the immigration front, I’ve handed in my passport along with still more photos and paperwork to complete the process of getting a long-term work permit. I should have it back week after next.