The People So Dharmaraja, unclem, and yours truly kicked off our slice of The Nodermeet On Which The Sun Never Sets at the Bookworm in Beijing. Then, when that got too crowded, and we started freaking people out with outré references to "noding" we shifted to a nameless hutong cafe which serves a mean mojito, and is cat-friendly (because Dharmaraja brought a cat -- Beijing is cool like that).
The Locations Beloved of expats and "returning" Chinese, the eponymous Bookworm is pretty much one of your only sources for more than the poor selection of "classics", Dan Brown, and airport-quality remainders that you would find in the Foreign Language section of your local Beijing bookstore. The nameless hutong cafe is about a ten-minute walk north from the top of Houhai, near the new Central Beijing Backpacker's.
The Conversations An argument about The Ashes -- put Australians and Brits in a room together, and the thoughts of young Commonwealth men turn lightly to the sound of leather on willow -- Monty Panesar vs. Matthew Hayden. A discussion about socialism and its application to modern China. Talk of Beijing traffic and bike lanes. Music. Literature. Politics. The old standards.
The Drinks Gin and Tonic for me. Coffee for unclem and Dharmaraja. The aforementioned mojitos were not available today (because Beijing is sometimes uncool like that).
The Food Salade niçoise. Sandwiches. Sorry, but it's Sunday, so Beijing expats like the three of us seek comfort food. You can get Biscuits and Gravy in Beijing at Western Happiness to China (which everyone calls "Paul's" after the owner) -- but only on a Sunday.
The Technology 1 x IBM ThinkPad X30 (kalen: An antique! Dharmaraja: A classic! unclem: Both and yet neither...). 1 x iBook G4. Wireless courtesy of Bookworm.
The Weather Mild. Overcast. Gusting wind picking up dust from the nearby (and ubiquitous) building site. The overcast almost goes without saying in Beijing -- it's one of the world's most polluted cities according to a recent study -- but on Sunday, when the factories are off, one can at least hope for a beautiful Beijing sky. It's worth waiting for when it does come, as Beijing sits on the edge of a desert of unusual colour, and thus the sky has a particular shade of blue that you just don't get anywhere else in the world.
The Traffic Not too bad. Only the standard number of near-misses and left turns from the right lane and inexplicable pedestrian zhǎo sǐ, a commonly used Chinese phrase which can be roughly translated as "death-seeking" (which they use a couple of times in Firefly). Every conversation in Beijing eventually turns to this subject -- the traffic, not the Joss Whedon series -- so not mentioning it would be remiss.
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The Intial Downvotes Courtesy of Dharmaraja and unclem. I drew the short straw!