Beijing Aiport Thoughts   Leave a comment

March 22, 2009

I’m watching  the sun as a red ball rise  from the a thick growth of trees in the distance. To the left of the sun, is the top of a mountain I can’t name. I’m in China , waiting for my connecting flight to Japan.
I”ve never been to the Beijing airport, but the Chinese ‘vibe’ still rings true. All the passengers on my flight were quiet. There was no laughter, no post-flight banter and everyone looked dead ahead.
In true Jamaican form, I went to a waiting area and started doing some serious wake up exercises. I did a few lunges, stretches, and then walked around listeing to music on my headphones. In a minute or two, a man in a black suit adorned with silver buttons (all the greeting staff was dressed this way ). “Where you going?” he said.  
I told him I was going to Japan. He gestured for me to go to a check in counter. I found this funny, because the check-in counter wasn’t supposed to open until 6 a.m, but an attendant had mysteriously appeared at 5:30. Other passengers were in the line as well.
This tension lasted about fifteen minutes, with good reason. As I came off the plane, one of the first things I noticed were two young people in full black watching all the passengers exit. Then there were more people waiting at the main entry way, and along the route to customs. They were expressionless and quiet.
The airport itself is an amazing work of art. Walking through this airport makes me feel as if I am stepping into the future. Underlying this architecture though, is that ‘big brother’ energy that has made China so fearsome in the minds of so many.
Every ten or fifteen feet there are cameras. Tiny black orbs housed in little half-cylinders. They were everywhere. In most airports I’v ebeen to, you can’t even see the cameras, but these were front and center. There were cameras at ticket check-in, above the staff getting ready somewhere in the back, in the door ways and along all pathways. The sensation of being watched was palpable.
Then every now and then, another airline worker, in the suit with the silver buttons woujld stroll by, walking in a way that suggested if you made a mistake, you would be whisked away to some Chinese prison for seven years.
Since there are so many horror stories about people disappearing in China, it made sense that everyone was quiet. You wouldn’t want to be seen as a usurper because the airport staff believed your Ipod touch was a secret transmitting device to gain state secrets.
As silly as that sounds, I made sure my ipod was in my pocket, and my eyes were trained directly ahead. When I went to the immigration officer, he scrutinized my passport in a way I’d never seen. He did smile at one point and say, “Ssshamiaca eh?”
I put on my best crocodile smile and said, “Yes, Jamaica.” I wasn’t’ tense because I feared I”d be taken away.  In the back, about twenty young peop;le were lining up and doing military drills. People working were looking over the shoulders of others who were working. It felt strange. After looking at my transit visa he opened up my old F1-Visa and pointed to my picture. “This you five years ago no?”
“I guess so, I don’t exactly remember.” I replied.
He said it with a smile on this face, but I didn’t know why he would ask me that. He closed the passport, handed it to me and waved the next person in line forward. I thought about taking my gum out of my mouth and tossing it into a bin nearby, but I didn’t dare stop.
The airport is huge and cold at this time of morning. Outside the temperature is about 34 degrees farenheight. I’m a little bit hungry, and I was hoping to make a phone call, but after reading the Chinese characters and seeing a prompt were I could use my credit card to dial the U.S, I decided not to. How much would that cost?
Now I’m sitting by a window the size of a house, as the early morning sun gives me some well needed warmth. I was very tempted to get a picture of the rising sun, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to take photographs in the airport, and I don’t want to find out the hard way. For now I’ll just kick back, relax and wait on my flight to Nagoya, which takes me to my final destination….
I’m kicking back and listening  to a mix CD. The crooning of Mavado’s voice echoes in my ears as I sit back in this vast expanse of well tailored architectural design, and wait.

Posted March 21, 2009 by marcusbird in Personal Thoughts

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