The first thing DD bought for Beijing was air filters. The city’s smog makes international headlines, and as pollution levels soar way above what’s considered hazardous, the government tells residents to stay indoors. When I went there on a work trip, I was horrified at the brown grainy veil that always covered the sky and made the midday sun look as weak as the moon. I envisage DD and me sealed in a skyscraper flat with our air filters, getting taxis to other air-filtered buildings and staring out despondently at the cars, houses and factories all kicking out fumes.
That’s what we dread most about the move. DD can’t sleep without the window open most nights, and can’t stand staying in the house during the day. And what I love doing in cities is walking around, getting lost and getting hungry. I feel the buzz of a city when I’m discovering new streets, watching the people, and seeing the sun set over several million different experiences of the same day.
London is a great city to do this in. With maze-like streets and huge parks, rich in history and hot on new trends, it’s small enough that I can walk everywhere and big enough to keep me confused. I can complain about psychopathic cyclists and peer into gorgeous townhouses, and see every social and cultural group making their mark on the city. And as I try to dodge past excited tourists and queues outside theatres, catch the scent of coffee in the morning and see restaurants shutting up at night, I feel so chuffed that I call London my home.
This isn’t to say that London doesn’t have its fair share of fumes. A walk on a sunny day makes my face feel clammy and my clothes smell dusty, and trying to cross the road behind a bus literally catches my breath. And London had its own era of terrible smog in the 1950s, when thousands of people died.
I can only hope that China will improve the situation as Britain eventually did – so that local people don’t have to suffer, expats don’t have to freak out, and nervous newbies DD and me don’t have to take a deep breath as we leave ‘clean’, green London.
Copyright © 2013 followingdrdippy