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Monday, 30 June 2014

Self-Discovery in Beijing - Page 2

Written by Alec Siegel
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X plops his bag down on his desk, and sits down next to Eric. Eric is a native, and it’s he who was X’s first work friend. X uses that classroom learned and now real world applied language to ask Eric about his weekend. Did he catch any basketball games? How’d it go with that girl he met last week? What’s he working on today?  They chat for a while, and then X let’s Eric get back to work. The boss, a short lady with a toothy grin and a commanding aura, checks in. She gives him an idea of his work for the week, and lets him get to it. 

 

X enjoys his work here. He likes that he can strike up a conversation with a co-worker and practice his language skills. He likes that he was just dreaming of this place months ago and is now really here, at a company, making friends and contributions. After a while, X gets up to stretch his legs. He pulls out an apple from his bag, and walks outside for some fresh air. 

 

It’s Halloween, and the restaurant workers next door are out in the back carving pumpkins. Like the subway riders, they’re equally as confounded by X. They take an immediate interest, as he does to them. They laugh together. X assists them in their attempt at carving pumpkins. Where he comes from, Jack O’ Lanterns are as common as streetlights at this time of year. Here they mean nothing. After his apple and carving lessons, X heads back in. His boss walks by and says to meet her at her desk in 15 minutes; there are matters they must discuss.

 

 

Y is exasperated. After numerous attempts at either connecting with or helping others in the office, he’s left to stew in his cubicle. He briefly debates writing a book on peanuts, as he is now surely capable of doing. Y checks the time on his computer. 4:30pm, still an hour or so to go and then another hour or so until he’s back home. He tiptoes about the office, checking to see if he’s being kept track of. He decides he’s not, and he decides he’s had enough of nothing. So he takes off. He packs up his stuff, and leaves. 

 

The area surrounding the office is filled with places to eat, things to see and people to meet, so it’s there that he’ll spend the next few hours exploring. It’s loud outside. Cars are whizzing past from every direction. They honk like it’s a form of breathing. Y is not exactly in the mood for this. Again, this place is different. He recognizes it’s not bad, or inferior to where he comes from, but different. 

 

In the mood he’s in right now however, it’s bad. In fact it couldn’t be worse. People stare at him and he’s about ready to flip out at all of them. “Yes! I’m foreign!” He thinks to himself, “Yes! I look nothing like any of you!” “This isn’t the zoo, and I’m not an exhibit, so please stop!” It’s a challenge that he’s faced often since coming to this place. A challenge he’s ready to confront and conquer. He wanders for a ways, and his grumbling stomach and the aroma of a nearby restaurant draws him in. 

 

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 July 2014

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