A perfect explantion of Beijing.
This summer, Beijing seems to be at capacity. Every restaurant is full. Every street is choked with traffic. Every attraction is mobbed. We hoped that the Olympic experience would transform Beijing the way it had Barcelona and Sydney. It didn’t. Beijing didn’t become Sydney. It became Shanghai, and we all know how much Beijing hates Shanghai.
There aren’t any more sports being played in Beijing now than there were three years ago. There are barely more concerts by international artists than there were three years ago. Traffic is horrendous. Air quality is abysmal. Service is terrible. Beijing welcomed the world and then told it to go home. China confirmed itself to itself, alpha and omega.
What we didn’t learn from the day after the Olympics was that that was it. The Olympic carnival doesn’t come back next summer, or the summer after, or in most cases, ever. It’s like the blooming of desert flowers: it might happen once in a very long while, it’s over very quickly, and if you didn’t see it, you probably wouldn’t know it ever happened. But if you were there, and you saw it, you’ll never forget it.
I didn’t come to Beijing for the Olympics and I don’t stay because there was one here. Beijing has always done one thing well –- it attracts talent, domestic and foreign. It is still home to the most dynamic, frustrating, inspiring and interesting group of people I’ve ever met, and it offers more opportunity than I ever imagined. That was enough before, and it’s enough now. I can visit those other cities, but I want to live here.