I like myself more than when I last came to China. I am more confident. I walked around for a few hours near 苏州街 listening to the This American Episode on global warning. The Beijing smog has not been so bad. I have seen the sun every day of this week. Saturday was International Women’s Day. Go women. I attended a brunch for the occasion and thought it was a sarcastic joke of an invitation (not in a mean way) only to find it was a serious brunch of about 15 young women (mostly foreign) ready to talk about being a woman, relationships, what they wish their mothers had and had not told them. It was sterile and awkward at the beginning but got much better as people began to open up. It was funny to be in room of girls/women sizing each other up. Friday I want to a raclette at some very young french guys’ house and their quiet and shy Beijing girlfriends. I left early.
Posting from first metro ride of my timr here. I think I will be very late for my dinner near the drum towers. I remember in 2007 when I lived in sihui dong (there were only four ring roads at the time) taking the 45 min metroride to my internship every morning and feeling so claustrophobic that I would imagine the subway crashing and my dying without a trace deep beneath the earth’s surface under a pile of hundreds of Chinese heads.
Last night at Modernista in the Gulou hutongs of Beijing. Mixing of old friends, new friends, new acquintances and new colleagues. And a coincidence of my colleague knowing my old friend from a night at the over the top Russian club Chocolate. The bar is cool. I felt like we were transported back in time to Shanghai in the 20s. I ordered a Ricard which I did not expect to find. There was a live jazz band, 2 floors with a balcony overlooking the couples of swing dancers. Lots of French people.
Sorry I did not mention before that I was in Shanghai for one night. I did not do much just brunch with random expats through an acquaintance from my 2009 trip. After the meeting I went rapidly through Kusama Yayoi exhibit at MOCA before I had to fly to Beijing on my very uncomfortable no frills express plane back to Beijing. I had seen her infinity room at the Whitney 13 years ago. I went because it was a thing to do that I can talk about and seem cultured and hip.
I am back in my Beijing hotel. I had a wonderful cab driver who instead of falling into the normal Chinese taxi driver conversation of “where are you from?” “are you in China to study?” “wow your Chinese is so good!” (it isn’t). This one immediately corrected my tones of my address: 中关村 zhong1 guan1 cun1. He made me repeat it after him and continued to do so with all the chinese phrases I said. I had an evening of watching the Oscar’s in a bathrobe doing work happening in Paris and New York time. Week 1 in Beijing over.
I met my boss at 西直门 to negotiate a black taxi to mutianyu, a less touristy part of the great wall. Annette said not to go above 400 but we were both obviously not locals and the beautiful blue sky and sunny weather rose the demand for their services so that I could not get it lower than 500..down from 800. Oh well. Our driver was a loquacious jolly clean cut guy. As he pranced us before the disgruntled other drivers with whom I negotiated to his off duty cab, one who especially pissed driver grabbed me by the arm yelling at me…like really screaming…because we had decided to go with our plucky chauffeur instead of him for the same price. In addition to grabbing my arm harshly, the guy actually pinched me like a snake bite on the arm. A painful pinch that left a mark. To which i went ape shit placing my bag down and yelling back and hitting him. Everyone was laughing. I slept in the car.
This morning I woke up at 8 after my first evening out with the lovely layers of Beijing friends from over the years. The oldest dating back to my hong kong days and most recent from maya’s amazing wedding in dhaka a month ago. Why did I wakeup at 8? I promised Annette i would help her give interviews for the final chinese candidates for admission next year at our business school, ESSEC. I was very hungover but happy for the long scenic cabride from 中关村 to 王府井 and the unusual experience。
I am back in Beijing after five years of making Paris my home. I visited for a fews months back in summer of 2009 before i started business school im Paris. This time I am here for a real job. I will be here for 2 months.
Dhaka’s road traffic is really awful in general. apparently, it is not as bad as India’s because there are not cows walking around in the middle of the road. The Prime Minister’s wife (or was it the Prime Minister?) had to miss Maya’s wedding (the actual ceremony when she walked in with a Quran on her head) because of the terrible Dhaka traffic. Half of our Maya Wedding Crew From Afar was stuck in traffic and arrived too late to see the bargaining for the bride at the gate. Anyway, I am happy that I got to experience waiting nonetheless.
This man was posing for me. I had a wall paper of faces staring in at my. The first man did not know he was being drawn and then there were more and more people (men) gathering to watch and he caught on. This other man, a handsome man, with buckled teeth like those of Jafar when he poses as a fellow cellmate of Aladdin. He put on the scarf for the portrait. it was exhillerating to draw in realtime like that. This will give me the confidence to do it in Paris, where I feel the weight of judgment much more than in a foreign country that I know I will be soon leaving.
Pink Palace, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Man behind the gate at the Pink Palace in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. I was with Antoine and Amir. Amir and I started to sketch. He, the palace, I the men staring at us from the streets.
新年快乐!!!! I have been waiting 12 years for it to be the year of the horse. My love of horses and drawing them is justified for the year.
Things are moving a lot recently. My life is anything but settled but it is more stable than it has been. I have traveled to Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia (ok fine, layover) the Netherlands, Qatar (layover) and Bangladesh for very fun and tiring times. Maya got married last weekend and I was there to see it. beautiful maya. Posts to come about her gorgeous happy and incredibly FUN wedding.
Goddard and Me series, 2011.
things are well but I have overdrank and not slept enough but my art is up and I am happy. But lots of traveling soon…. Pays Bas, Bangladesh and Chine for a while.