Nanjing, A Birthday Present


On the Baotaqiao East Street near the Yangtze River, stands a man holding a big framed oil painting, which is about 1.2 meter in length and 1 meter in width. The painting portrays one of his female friends, who celebrates her birthday today.


He spent almost 3,000 RMB for the painting. It is made by a graduate student from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. He tells that it is hard to have this student paint a portrait for you, for he is already famous and has his own studio.


“The girl in the painting is approaching, so why not take a photo of us together?” he suggests. He points to the opposite side of the road. We note that she looks much younger than the woman in the painting. He does not answer us but yells immediately to the girl: “Hey, they say that you are beautiful!”


When asked whether he often prepares such precious birthday presents for his friends, he grins and says: “I have few such female friends.”



Beijing, Mr. Wang and Mr. Niu


Niu Qingbin and Wang Dianhui are sitting on the street, drinking and chatting. They are both native Beijingers and speak with a heavy Beijing accent.


When they hear I’m from the Netherlands, the subject immediately changes to football. They watched the friendly match against Germany last night (from 3:30 to 5:30 am). They claim that everyone in Beijing is interested in football.


Niu Qingbin is 50 years old. He used to be a worker in a brewery and he could drink a lot.


Wang Dianhui is 58 and will retire from his job at the Beijing Heating Group in 2 years. He is looking forward to having time for climbing mountains and for travelling.


Mr. Wang is proud of his son, who is 30 years old. His son is an attorney and so is his wife. Mr. Wang says he was not successful himself, but it does not matter; “it is the next generation who lives up to our expectations”.


Before we leave, Mr. Wang states that it is important for a person to be down-to-earth and do something practical for fellow citizens.


Then they both say, in an earnest manner, that they hope that the photographer will learn more about lives in Beijing and that they wish he will show the various aspects of Beijing to the foreign world, because only introducing the real Beijing to the whole world will eventually help the society.







Beijing, FaTou Amusement Park


Mr. Hong is the manager of an amusement park in FaTou, Beijing.

He works in this amusement park for almost two years and worked in several others for the past 10 years.


Did you get a special kind of education for this work?

“Yes of course. All careers related to machines require technical skills. I studied machine maintenance.”


Can you tell a bit about the safety regulations in the park?

“Every single child entering this park must be accompanied by an adult or a guardian. Apart from that; we don’t have those huge and dangerous machines; everything here is for kids under 12 years old. So it is safe here and nothing too dangerous can happen.”


So the park is more focused on a child’s fantasy than on the thrill?

“You’re right. We don’t have those big and dangerous machines here.”



On a busy day when there are a lot of kids, what does your day look like?

“At weekends and during holidays it can be quite busy. It is my job to maintain a friendly atmosphere in the park. I would walk around to see if there is anything wrong. This job involves managing the workers and taking care of the safety of all the machines.”


What is the most popular place for the kids?

“The kids like the merry-go-round best, and during the summer they like playing with or in the water.”


When you were a kid, were you also very fond of amusement parks?

“When I was a kid we didn’t have such fancy amusement parks. I just played at home.”


Do you like the fact that you’re here with the same kind of music all day or can it become annoying?

“I don’t feel annoyed by the music. I kind of like it, because I like working in this industry.”


What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?

“I find the condition of the air is quite good here.”


Is it because of the trees?

“(…) and there is a lot to see. Maybe it is not enough, but the trees are good for one’s health. Every job can do harm to one’s health. Just imagine it. I used to trade building materials and it was not good for my health.”


How many people do you have to manage?

“About 3 to 6 people.”


So it’s a nice, small working environment?

“Yes. And my job is not tiring.”


Are you friends with your colleagues?

“I’m still their boss.”


What are your working hours in a week?

“From 8am to 6pm. We work every day of the week, without a break.”


Any break in the winter?

“No break in the winter. Holidays are the busiest time in this park.”







Beijing, Mr. Guo Jia



Mr. Guo Jia is a tenant. The room he is renting is at the same time the entrance to the pigeonry of his landlord. On request of the landlord he feeds the pigeons.


Mr. Guo works as a cook in a Cantonese restaurant. He is not particularly fond of pigeons.