The tiny park near our office is like a microcosm of Chinese society – bustling with life, a reminder of why I had tried for years to come back.
I cannot imagine any other place where I would feel safe. Hardly anyone sits, walks or jogs alone. There is an overwhelming sense of family – with old folks doing tai chi, small children playing in abandon, couples walking hand in hand. Even birds rest on a boat in the middle of the man-made lake, unperturbed by the din and bustle of the surroundings.
Here I feel a part of the throbbing humanity, less of an automaton, despite the fact that the locals do not even smile at you or talk to you. Somehow, you know you are allowed in, although there’s no exclamation point or saccharine offer of friendship.
This is a place where they will let you thrive and prove yourself without drama. How I wish I could experience this sense of community on a day to day basis, and not be cooped up in an air-conditioned cage where glum staff stare blankly at their computer screens, missing the sunrise and the sunset.