Friday, April 13, 2012

The Pleasant Resort Community

In February 2008, my wife and I moved to China (PRC). Prior to getting on the airplane, this blogger signed up for a month long TEFL course in Beijing. The goal was to learn something about the country and then find a job teaching English.

While I was attending the first week of class, my wife visited the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to register our passports. Upon arrival, all foreigners living and working in China are required, by law, to register within 24 hours. Two days after reporting to the PSB, we became the target of government monitoring.

As I walked into the building where the TEFL course was being held, a man was standing in the center of the lobby. More than 100 people were standing in one of the four elevator lines. Everybody except this one lone man.

When I entered the elevator, after making direct eye contact, he brought his cell phone to his ear, smiled, then turned and exited the building. This whole sequence of events happened in a matter of seconds. From the look on his face and body language, it was evident he had been waiting for me to arrive for class.

After this brief encounter, for the next two months, this private American citizen was closely followed each and every day around the city.

Eventually, I developed this observational theory regarding Normal and Abnormal behavior. For anybody that's taken any sort of mass transportation in a developing Asian country, as a westerner, it's impossible not to notice the mad rush of people trying to get to the head of the line

Indeed, I cannot count the amount of times my wife and I were completely cut off and crushed by a large wave of humanity. My family knows that I HATE standing in line and places with extremely large crowds. I would rather let two or three subway trains pass, then allow myself to be packed inside a compartment like a human sardine. So, when a local didn't board the 2nd or 3rd train that passed thru a subway station, that individual was displaying abnormal social behavior. It rather easy to spot the people tasked with following this blogger.

One morning, as I stepped into a subway car, I noticed this oddly dressed young couple. He was wearing a poorly tailored black suite and the girl had on a K-Mart special looking evening dress. This pair looked completely out of place for the time of day.

In Beijing, each subway train runs roughly 30 compartments. Since each train has 3 doors, there are exactly 90 different possibilities to enter the train. During regular hours, the trains run approximately 1 min. and 50 sec. to 2 min. apart.

The next day, I boarded the train 30 minutes later than the previous morning. That means at least 13 different trains (with 390 compartments) had passed before I had walked into the station. When I entered the subway train, this same couple, wearing the exact same clothes, quickly moved from a forward compartment and stood next to me...
Coincidence? I remembering thinking to myself "this CCP couple really needs to buy some new clothes".

Short list of words banned on the internet in China: Shawshank Redemption, UA898, CNN, Abing, Dongshigu, U.S. Embassy and pearl. Read More...