12th May 2018

Tianjin (天津)

 

Johan! How are you my man?

So good to hear from you and yes, I see you’ve heard the rumours: I’ve met someone!

Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves: love requires more than being a sexy friend, just as a capital city is more than just a bigger town. And I know, exhausted from cycling and the ceaselessness of China there is every possibility that I’m on the rebound, in no fit state to judge. But I like Beijing.

It’s not that I’ve been dazzled by her sparkles – I held off from exploring her palatial wonders until my parents come to meet her at the end of this trip. But even so she’s a lot of fun.

We’ve had some good nights out, great dinners, chilled afternoons in coffee shops complete with flat whites and napping cats; this is very much her thing at the moment but I didn’t mind – nice for me just to chill for a while.

She really is a lovely lass. Of course partly I love her exotic charms. She is very Chinese but this ain’t exactly my first hot pot if you know what I mean – I’ve met many others like her, each with their particular charms. but Beijing is different, she’s a grown up, more adult, more worldly.

Its very endearing; her homespun ways keep shining through. We were both distracted by a chubby-legged child playing with a plastic spade amidst the small heap of builders sand as we walked together down one of the alleyways. In a one room eatery she introduced me to a man who sings opera while he cooks. And we were both relaxed in a park watching the table tennis players, the pushchairs, the flower laden trellises.

Although a lot of her friends are Chinese she certainly has some foreign friends already – I don’t feel quite so much the curiosity around her. They are a real mix – there’s the student set who we see out and about from time to time – enjoying the thrill of a strange place that becomes much easier quite quickly. She also has a lovely bunch of art folk and diplomat friends who as well as being very generous, are fascinating people to compare notes and stories with. They’re mostly old friends of hers so could tell me a story or two about her!

I should warn you, she is a little odd. She is very proud to talk about her past but much more comfortable around new things. She is constantly throwing her heirlooms away for the latest new trinket. Then only a little later she will be keen to talk endlessly about it again, but only on her terms. She is a women who is keen to prove herself, show her independence, and I like that – but it has caused a few arguments!

I think she is going to be a handfull – Jonas, I know what you’re thinking, don’t say a word! I think you will like her though. She’s different.

If I’m honest, she’s not entirely my type – she has an intrusive streak at times, eavesdropping on conversations with my friends. She says it’s normal, and if I’ve nothing to hide then what’s the problem, but I just find it a little paranoid, too clingy by half!

And I know it might seem a little thing but honestly, Jonas, her perfume makes me cough a little. She says she has stopped using so much recently but it still seems to hang in the air at times.

She is a little too fond of the makeup for my taste too – obviously clean is good, but caked in the stuff! She sometimes feels a little fake – I prefer the natural look. Perhaps she’s just not yet sure of herself? Like, another thing, she’s obviously still growing up (reading between the lines I think she had a tough childhood), still learning from everything around her like we all do but she won’t admit it and gets really aggresive if i broach it! ‘No’, she will say, ‘I thought of that!’ Or ‘my grandad taught me that when I was young’.

Perhaps I will overlook these things in time. For now we are just having fun. Is love blind from birth or does it become blind? And we change, right? For better or for worse.

But, yes, I’m sure you will like her and I can’t wait for you to meet. I have had to leave her for a while now, I am heading southwards to meet one of her friends, Shanghai. I hear she’s the glitzy one – and is quite attractive herself, always surrounded by bankers and businessmen. In any case, doing well for herself from what I hear.

Anyway, I’ve told her I will try to be back a few times over the next few months, whenever I am in between things. It’s still early days, so it will be good to get to know her better. But, yes, I like her.

Now, enough of me! How are you both doing? It’s been a long time now! I was sorry to hear that you two have been going through a cold patch. I hope it’s getting better. I know London loves the sunshine so very much!

Have fun, speak soon, and, man, I can’t wait to see you before long.

John.