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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Summer holidays: Beijing

Beijing. My picture of the Pekingese pup perched on a shelf (as if for sale) outside a hole in the wall store in a backstreet of a Beijing hutong reminds me of our last summer there. A monsoon of memories, provoked by potent images, comes to mind - don't you love the way our memories sort, collate and retrieve images at will? Albeit somewhat imperfectly, but I'm thankful all the same. The first image is that of two little girls and their mother whom we met in the Forbidden City. I'd been looking forward to seeing the City but the weather was awful (sweltering, steamy, smoggy) and the air quality dreadful (it was difficult to breathe) so my memories are as hazy as the City was on that day. My strongest memory, however, is of this charming affable (even playful) mother and her adorable children who chatted to us for a short time. The little girls wore these kitsch souvenir headdresses that I became smitten with (yes, I ended up buying one) and after speaking to them for just a little while, I didn't want to leave. They were on their summer holidays and they were generous, even lazy, with their time, casual and carefree, and in no hurry to go anywhere. That's something about summer that I love. That easygoing temperament that overcomes us with the warm weather come July and August. Where does our patience go the rest of the year? Regardless, thank god it returns. And there was something about them that I envied. They were having fun. It was their summer holiday after all. I think I've forgotten what it's like to have a holiday... and a summer one at that.

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