Saturday, July 21, 2012

Xizhimen At Night

There is this plaza over in the Xizhimen section of Beijing that is mostly empty by day, but really comes to life in the evening.

For years, we have driven by this plaza at night, usually on public buses coming home from 6pm Sunday Mass at the North Cathedral. But, until the other night, we had not gotten off the road and checked out the scene for ourselves.

It is, once again, a case of what initially appears to the untrained eye as chaos actually turning out to be a rather organized way of doing business and having fun.

There are merchants, selling cheap goods on blankets and out of the backs of carts...All lined up in a row that is marked out, naturally, by the different colors that the builders originally used when constructing the pattern on the plaza's ground.

There are these really cool three-wheelers that have compartments on the back. Open up the compartments, and there are karaoke machines inside. All of these are located in one corner of the plaza where they can be plugged in.

And then there are the roller skates. Hundreds of pairs for rent, with most of the skaters zooming around in a counter-clockwise circle in an impromptu roller rink. Once again, the chaos of all of that motion is stripped away to reveal a large section of the plaza, about the size of an actual roller rink, where there is order to the proceedings.

As Z wondered out loud..."How is it that all of this just emerged, without any central organization?" An interesting question, indeed...



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