Monday, May 21, 2012

Tiananmen Square

My plane arrived in Beijing on a beautiful afternoon, so after settling in, and while Chris was flying in from Shanghai, I walked to Tiananmen Square to see the place in the waning light of day.  The initial impact was from Chairman Mao's oversize portrait on the large building serving as precursor to the Forbidden City.  The security around the building was significant, where visitors had to funnel through a narrow fence opening manned by half a dozen police.  This was just to go to the front of the building on the outside.  It really seemed like a pilgrimage for the folks, holding Chinese flags and posing for portraits with the Chairman's portrait behind them.  I then walked to the other side of Tiananmen Square, across Chang An Avenue, via an underpass.  All bags had to go through X-ray scanners before being admitted to the section made famous by the 1989 disturbance.  Visitors, mostly Chinese, were milling around, having picnics and waiting for an event around the flagpole holding the flag of China - I think it may have been for the changing of the guard.  What struck me were the families waiting together, sitting around statues, grandparents, toddlers, little ones on dads' shoulders so they could see better.  A circle of appreciative onlookers watched as an enchanting little girl performed a simple dance.  She was accompanied by traditional Chinese music played from a device on the belt of her grandfather, who was coaching her with a big smile on his face.  I assumed he was her grandfather by the body language, the age difference, the pride he exuded, and the affection exhibited after the little girl's performance.  A soldier stood close by at attention, and I'm thinking he had to have cracked a smile, if even for an instant.

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