Making Friends

Nichola Quirke was cementing a new friendship on 28 June 2021 by arranging to meet Huan whom he had chatted with in a cafe for a meditation class at a mall with several studio theatres that he had never been to in Guomao. For once he had no class with Jean and decided to cycle all 12km despite the humidity. He planned his route to take him directly past Tiananmen Square but it wasn’t long before his passage was blocked and he found himself off course. With the 100 year celebration happening Chang’an Avenue was no completely closed for security. No Bikes allowed. This was very frustrating and he found himself going round in a circle before he circumnavigated the square and found himself on the right road but the alternative side of the square. From there on it was virtually a straight line. En-route though he witnessed a van had tried to go under a bridge but didn’t make it and the force of the blow had uprooted the barrier. He could only imagine the state of the driver. His enthusiasm for cycling in Beijing completely distracted him and he discovered he had cycled past the turning and he had to turn back again. He had planned to find a cafe at the mall but when he spotted an establishment called ‘UK’ he felt he was being called and he made himself comfortable in the space for a couple of hours. This included a long needed chat with Cole who had successfully landed a role as ‘in house’ photographer for ‘The Vampire’s Wife’ and could now officially call himself a photographer. He found the ‘Vintage’ mall with ease but locating the venue was more difficult and he was so hot he stopped at a bistro to get an iced American where he started chatting with a woman who turned out to be going to the same class. Huan was waiting for him when he arrived and he was introduced to the artistic director of the theatre space they were. The meditation class had been cancelled as the teacher was sick and that gave Huan, whose company had developed the mall he was in, a chance to show him round the compound. She introduced him to several of the theatres actors and space owners and they exchanged WeChat numbers and he would begin a dialogue with them, It had been a productive evening and he had greatly enjoyed the company, though he felt he allowed himself to be somewhat garrulous on his experience of China. They were both living west and when it came time to leave they decided to take a bus through Tiananmen to see the displays lit up. When they got on the bus they had a clear view of the south and the upcoming Square but by the time they reached the vicinity the bus was so crowded they could see any thing of the square itself and he focussed inseam on Tiananmen Gate. The exhibits looked beautiful at night and when he got off a Xidan he had a chance to see a couple up close. It was past 10 when he got in and too late for a movie though after his cycling and the heat he needed a session in the massage chair as they watched ‘Loki’. He was still making friends even though he would be returning to the uk shortly and that was a joyous thought to go to sleep on.

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