Beijing, Hulusi and Diabolo


Every afternoon Mrs. Qin Fengling goes to the Ge Yuan park to play Hulusi for an hour. After that she stays to do some physical exercises.


There are many trainings and workshops for learning how to play the Hulusi, Mrs. Qin Fengling did not attend any. Instead, she bought a book on how to play Hulusi and taught herself.


Listen to Mrs. Qin playing (in the background you can hear the sound of a diabolo and the shutter of my camera):

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Many retired Beijingers exercise in parks by playing with Diabolos. It’s a lively view and the sound carries far.


The man we meet after talking to Mrs. Qin, plays two kinds of diabolo, both with only one bowl (usually a diabolo has two bowls which makes it easier to keep them in balance). He uses two sets of sticks; short ones and longer ones. He says that it is more difficult to play with the longer sticks, because after holding the sticks for a few minutes your hands start feeling sour and lack the strength.


Every morning there are many older men playing diabolos in the woods of Ge Yuan park as an exercise.


He invites us to join him in playing diabolos and instructs us how to play: circle the rope between the sticks three times around the diabolo, then raise the diabolo with the sticks and move the sticks to get the diabolo in balance. After that, circle the rope counter-clockwise once and keep one circle of rope around the diabolo. Keep moving the sticks with both hands by turns. If the diabolo can make a resonant sound, it means you are playing fine.




Beijing, Mrs. Yu Lixian


Mrs. Yu Lixian, 86 years old, was born in Hangzhou, grew up in Shanghai, studied in Suzhou and moved to Beijing in 1956. Before Mrs. Yu retired she worked in a hospital. In her own words, she has been “serving the people all her life”.

Mrs. Yu helps people with a massage when they have a headache or pain in their arms or when something is wrong with the nerves on their back. She never waits for people in need to look for her; instead, she always looks for them. “She is really kindhearted!” says Wang Yingxia who is having at treatment by Mrs. Yu.


Mrs. Yu studied in a nursing school when she was 16. After three years of study and two years of internship in an out-patient department, she became a nurse. She says she started working before the New China was founded. But not for long at that time; “When I was young, my husband didn’t allow me to go to work, so I don’t have any retirement pension, really. Now my husband is gone and I am living on my children.”


While she is slowly telling her own story, she at the same time takes care of Mrs. Wang. “Stretch your fingers. Are they sour? Do they hurt or just feel sour? Don’t let your hands catch more cold.”


Mrs. Wang Yingxia is from Hebei Province. She used to be a salesperson. At the moment she has no job, because she is spending time taking care of her six-month-old child. She says she will go back to work when her child grows older. Her fingers are probably sour due to her work in the house and always working with her hands in cold water.

Beijing, Mr. Wei


Mr. Wei Tieliang is 55 years old and retired from work two years ago. He’s now running a small grocery store in the community. He sells snacks and daily necessities to his neighbors. The store opens at 6:00 in the morning and closes at 11:00 at night. It’s not very busy. Usually, Mr. Wei sits on a stool in front of the store. Regularly friends join him  for a chat. In winter, he would move into the store and warm the place with an air conditioner.


Mr. Wei installed two mail boxes on the outside wall of his store. This way the postmen don’t have to deliver mail from door to door and it’s also more convenient for residents to get their mail when passing by. Besides this he volunteered to look after the bicycles of his neighbors in the storage next to his shop.


Mr. Wei is a soccer fan; he supports the Dutch team. It excites him to talk about football players like Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. His favorite food includes chicken, duck, fish and pork. He seldom eats foreign food, but thinks French steak is delicious.


Beijing is developing very fast. Life is much better than 30 years ago. Though there’re still many poor people and serious traffic problems, the Beijing government has been working hard to solve those problems and improve living conditions.



Beijing, Mrs. Zhao XiaoLi and Mr. Ren Qing


Mrs. Zhao XiaoLi and Mr. Ren Qing both live in a community in Beijing’s Fatou area. Mr. Ren Qing is retired and is, together with around 100 colleagues, doing cleaning work in the community. Before his retirement he had many different jobs, most of the time as a driver. He belongs to the Mongolian minority and his hometown is Jilingele in Inner Mongolia. Twenty years ago he moved to Beijing, because his wife is from Beijing. Now his whole family is living in Beijing. He misses his hometown every day. He misses his relatives and, well actually everything. Because of his age he does not visit his hometown as regular as before; only when he has to go for something very important.

Mrs. Zhao XiaoLi is also retired from a job in accounting. She moved to the community a couple of years ago. The price is not too high and she likes the colorful architecture and the many green trees and plants. In her spare time she often goes to the library in Chaoyang district to learn English. Her English name is Iris. She is not a grandmother yet. Her daughter is currently too busy with work to have a kid.