30th July 2012
As I type away this non-essay sipping a frappaccino at Beijing Capital airport, I’m thinking there may not be a lot of days with such abject freedom. While coffee beans inspire a caffeine high, the café atmosphere itself gives rise to a lazy calm There’s a strong smell of cacao mingled with a mix of perfumes in the air, the terracotta walls resonate with the sound of idle banter, as barristers go over a well-practiced routine at flash pace. Something old is playing in the background and it sounds like a French ballad – the playlist keeps switching between jazzy trumpets and lazy ballad tunes. My flight got delayed, and I don’t feel like waiting at my airport gate for 2 hours, so a café is perfect. Coffee and tea houses are idyllic, and perfect for writing. As I flitted between a translation of Kashf-ul-Mahjoob and Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil (yes, quite a contast), I had a strong urge to record this moment in writing. I don’t know the next time I will visit Beijing, but I hope it’s soon. These 6 weeks felt like a dream. Even now, less than 10 feet away from the airport gates, it feels unreal: I was (am) in China. Right now it’s a mix between nostalgia for these last few days, and jubilance to be going back to the comfort of home. Yesterday we revisited Sanlitun, one of my favorite places in Beijing. At dinner, we said our sad goodbyes with promises to meet again amid toasts and cheers, and I couldn’t help thinking that we’ll all literally be in different parts of the world after this. Some say the world is flat now, and maybe distances have become shorter. So here’s to 再见 Zàijiàn.