A day in Beijing

Arrows flash. Elevator never comes. Take the stairs. Exit in the alley next to the hotel. Circle the block. Street names repeat. Futong, fu'an, guangshun. Extend the perimeter. Withdrawal refused. Stuck. Wander till new bank appears. Success. Buy ticket, ride subway. Crowded. Change lines. More crowded. Wangfujing, dongshishitiao, and gongyixiqiao stations. Old trains. Teens lost in iPad games. Racing, football, dreamin. Rise to the surface. All directions ambiguous. Follow curiosity. Landmark spotted. Monolithic train station. Join the ebb and swell. Taipingqiao, taipingqiaocun, liuliqiao. Slum-like side street. Pedestrian bent over sick. Rain, garbage, music. One more street just for kicks. Street vendors form farmers market with produce on bicycle carts. Cross the street a courtyard labyrinth. Halls, rooms, boxes. Tables, kettles, cups. Puerh-er, liu cha, oo-long tie guan yin. Old man in tiny shop. Shelves packed to the ceiling. Gestures, grunts, nods. Brews a cup with effortless care. Its more then the tea we share. Passing a shop with ladies sorting stems. Irresistibly inviting they welcome me in. Try more, buy more, leave. Dont leave. What is she saying? What does she want? Aggressively motions me follow. To the street, to the apartment. Meet family. Help daughter with english homework. Student posing as teacher. ni hau, xie xie, zai jian. Drink tea. Snack. More tea. Have dinner. Mooore tea. Take gifts, exchange numbers. Mother worried. Its raining. Take an umbrella. Are you lost? Yes. But its ok. Its good.