On The World Stage

Medical Fortune Telling

Dim natural light streamed into the room, where a hospital bed stretched nearly the length of one wall. A monk, two translators and four of my fellow correspondents crowded around me as a Taoist doctor rattled off my diagnosis.

“Cancer...

“No, breast disease...

“No, not now. In the future. Maybe.”

I panicked, searching the eyes of each person in the room for reassurance. Nothing. My colleagues looked glad they were not in my position.

“This isn’t China”

“Howdy y’all,” our waiter exclaimed as he walked up to our table at Tim’s Barbeque.

His thinly veiled Chinese accent was the only thing that set him apart from the Texas-bred waiters I’d had in Austin just a week earlier, and the walls were decked out in familiar Americana. I ordered a quesadilla, and from the middle of Silk Street in downtown Beijing, I was momentarily transported back home.

Lost in Translation

Our team toured the hutongs of Beijing Friday morning. Hutongs are narrow alleyways unique to the streets of this city, built by the Mongols during the Yuan dynasty 700 years ago. Part of the experience included visiting a household in one of the neighborhoods. Our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Chen, were in their early seventies. Retired government workers, they were eager to share their home and viewpoints with us (although cynics questioned how much of that alacrity might have been influenced by a possible arrangement with the tour organizer).

 

Web Startups and the Wudaokou Power Breakfast

This morning I took a cab and, thanks to intense road construction, walked the last five blocks, out to Beijing’s hopping Wudaokou district, home to more techie types than anywhere else I’ve seen in Beijing. Entering through a cozy bookstore as it opened for the day, I climbed a flight of stairs up to Lush, an international student hangout—with pancakes and great coffee, at last—to meet Calvin Chin, the guy behind the Web startup Qifang.cn.

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