Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Scenes from our neighborhood on the Tsinghua campus

The roses are his obsession.
This guy lives around the corner from our apartment building in a village that is gradually being devoured by the university. I have seen him just like this several times, contemplating his roses.

They cling to a narrow strip of dirt next to the concrete pathway. Sometimes I see him watering them. If I could speak Chinese, I would ask him how long he has lived in the village. I would ask him why he chose roses for his little strip of garden. I would ask him what he thinks about while he squats there, smoking a cigarette.

Workers dig with pick and shovel.
Just a couple of doors away from the rose gardener, a crew put in a water line last fall. Workers still use picks and shovels on a lot of jobs. Of course they have the big power shovels and back hoes, but on this particular job, they were doing it by hand.

Below is the famous Old Gate of Tsinghua University, which I pass through every day on my bicycle on the way to the office. Tourists are always posing in front of it. Many professional organizations come to the campus for courses, and they often pose for a picture on a portable grandstand that is set up for the purpose. Given how often I pass through that gate, I must be in hundreds of snapshots of tourists. 

Police group gets ready for their group shot
outside the Second Gate.

The bicycle shelter

There is a battle for space outside our apartment building. In the year and a half since we have been living here, more and more residents seem to have bought cars. They park in front of the doorways to the apartments, in front of the bicycle shelters, on both sides of the street. It is difficult for two cars to pass.

The bicycle shelter has become a graveyard for the two-wheeled vehicles abandoned by visiting international professors and students. No one seems to have the authority to remove the old ones, so they pile up. Sometimes we can't find a space, so we park our bikes against the building. A local vendor cleared out some space in the bicycle shelter to store vegetables. I told the office administrator at the university about it, showed her this picture and the next day the vegetables were gone. 

Dan Williams, Fulbright scholar, with the sundial and
auditorium in the background.
Tsinghua has a lovely campus. The journalism school faces this grand lawn that invites comparisons to an American university campus. That's intentional. The university was started with U.S. money, so some of the buildings and plazas have that flavor. But the gardens and ponds are definitely more Chinese in design and character.

This bridge over one of the canals on campus captured
the attention of our friends Stewart and Rena Diana
of Baltimore when they came for a tour of the campus last fall.
Lotus blossoms bursting out on Tsinghua campus.

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