Today I spontaneously decided to visit the inner city of Beijing as I was already close to a subway station because of some more paperwork I had to deal with. So I went to Tian’Anmen Square. To be frank, I was quite excited when I climbed the stairs from the subway and entered the surface. I stood next to a wide open street, among hundreds of other people. Ahead of me, in the distance, I could spot some skyscrapers wrapped in a coat of smog. The concrete reflected the heat. I just moved into the same direction as most other people did. Fences where channeling the masses towards a security control. My ID and my bag were checked, but all around me smiling faces and even an English „Thank you and welcome!“ from the lady that checked on me. The crowd was led by more fences towards Tian’Anmen and towards the Zhengyang Gate where a huge counterfeit of Mao, the Great Chairman, benevolently looks down to the people. I had very indifferent feelings while standing there, facing Tian’Anmen and knowing the Forbidden City in my back: This place definitely has many stories to tell – good and heroic ones full of history, sad ones, horrible ones. This is not just the heart of the city, that is also the heart of the country and a whole nation.
The square itself is said to be one of the biggest public squares in the world and it is surrounded by many government buildings build in an architecture that resembles the vast Soviet style. The Forbidden City is hiding behind massive walls and today I didn’t take the opportunity to visit this spectacular place I already had been to almost 10 years ago. Today I wanted to just roam around and get a feeling for the place. It is actually hard to get an overview because views are blocked by massive fences, huge poles with uncountable surveillance cameras; police men make sure that everything goes as it should. I strolled past the square and turned north along the walls of the Forbidden City and through the hutongs that duck in the shadows of the surroundings. The further north I got the less tourists I saw and eventually I witnessed daily life in Beijing: elderly people playing MaJong on a park bench, a group of people sitting together chatting vividly, next to them several table tennis tables where mostly guys fought hard over every ball. An average Friday afternoon in Beijing.