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The claustrophobia incurred staying inside these four walls here in Beijing is heightened by the constant noise from outside; buildings 24/7, screaming kids, and above all, the guards. Guards, shouting, marching, spitting. Everybody spits here, but it still gets some getting used to see men in uniform show such a lack of propriety.
It goes more than that. The need to remind oneself that we are only animals seems to be the prevailing thought here; an ideology that has now replaced communism as a reason to continue with the fascist regime ruling. Making a noise as you drink is the done thing among Chinese intelligensia. Other bodily noises in this country include spitting wherethe Chinese are proud holders of the world champions in bringing up snot from the back of their throat and disposing it on the pavement, classroom, train floor or wherever, and the aptly-named snot-rocket wherein they place one finger of a nostril and exhale with a fierce blow the snot in the other nostril.
It just struck me after hearing another spit that it seems like the government is intentionally striving to keep its people stupid through its ingenious employment scheme. My flat provides two examples of this. For example, outside any building, be it my apartment, an embassy, or the local massage parlour, there will be a guard all dressed up smartly in their uniforms and for the most part standing straight a s a rake. You would think as you go past one to get a haircut that the establishment is patronised by the Queen. At all times there is at least one at the door, with perhaps one or two loitering around the parking lot. Going past him, you enter the door opened by a special security card and proceed to the lifts where again, at all times, there is a girl inside whose sole purpose is to press the button of your floor for you. You could be arriving after work in the evening or after a night out on a bender at 4 in the morning, but she will be inside, forced to sit alone within the stifling walls for no other reason but to press a button. Only she has been given the authority by the state to have the honour of doing so. This means that, given that most people live in apartment buildings, if the girl is on her lunch break or gone to the loo, you will be required to either wait for her or climb a couple dozen flights of stairs to your floor.
At least wearing masks makes it harder to spit, although most of the masks are next to useless Yufang,” an acquaintance explained, as she began offering me a cigarette. “Precaution.”
Truly, more people are smoking in the belief that it will ward off SARS. As the Chinese government has admitted the true extent of the spread of the virus, all kinds of precautionary measures, some more effective than others, have come into vogue. All I know now is that I have trouble sleeping with the thought of a billion spitting all the time.
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