Sunday, September 12, 2004

Beijing. City of smells.

When we had settled into our apartment, we noticed a strong smell coming from our bathroom. Now, it's not the kind of strong smell that you would naturally associate with a bathroom, although it was definately from the same family of scents. Our bathroom has a drain in the floor which emits the foul odor. The room next to the bathroom, where the washing machine sits, has a drain of the same type. The smell is not present during the day, but at night, it seems to act up. Roger, the ex-husband of my boss, suggested putting damp towels over the drains. My coworker, Carol, mentioned that their were no traps in the pipes, which allowed the noxious fumes to waft at leisure. Anyhow, we're still fighting it.

Outside the apartment, at the end of each hallway, just past the elevators, there is an outdoor balcony where we put our trash as the need arises. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, we may be lucky enough to catch a hint of what everyone on our floor had eaten on the day before. The location of the trash balcony is the same on every floor, which happens to be directly above the front entrance to our building.

It's really not as exagerratingly bad as I'm making it sound, nor is it so far from the truth.

Out in the world around our apartment building, we are surrounded by construction, massive high-rise construction projects, which seem to keep a constant cloud of dust circulating in the air. You get used to it. It's also pleasing to think that when the construction is completed, the neighborhood could possibly be quite nice. Take a stroll to the vegetable market, which houses vendors of many other types of goods, as well as many small restaurants, and enjoy the potpourri of animal, vegetable and mineral odors.

You learned, in my previous post, that I have a personal driver. As he is a smoker, there is often the smell of cigaret smoke in the car, which is not pleasing to all. The ride to school and back, completed during morning and evening rush hours, also carries its attendant smells. As you would expect, the profusion of exhaust is ripe and nauseating as we swim through the stop-and-go traffic. It's not rare to see a three-wheeled vehicle or truck belching smoke as it rambles down the road.


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