THE weather in Beijing is getting colder and colder each day, officially announcing the beginning of winter.
I was quite unprepared for this sudden change of weather, thinking that the temperature would drop gradually and I would have ample time to get my winter clothing.
But I was wrong. One day, it was still a hot summer day with a temperature of more than 30°C and the next, the reading on the thermometer dropped to slightly over 20°C following a mild rain.
It has never gone up again.
In less than a month, the temperature quickly dropped down to a single digit, followed by a strong and chilling wind after sunset at around 5.30pm.
“Beijing has no spring and autumn” is what the people here told me when I complained about the weather.
How to fight the dry climate during winter has become part of the daily conversation among adults.
Fellow Malaysians, friends and workers at the mini-market of my apartment gave me tips, especially on how to keep the skin moist, and applying facial masks regularly is one of the best ways to look fresh.
One primary school boy from Guangzhou in southern Guangdong province has perhaps heard a lot about this from the adults.
While attending a tuition class last Wednesday, the Year Five pupil did something hilarious that made him an Internet sensation overnight.
The boy, who had asked for permission from the teacher to go to the toilet, returned with a facial mask on his face.
He walked calmly to his desk.
On seeing others laughing at him, the boy removed the mask but put it on again when the teacher started lecturing again.
He later told his teacher that the mask belonged to his mother and he took it without her consent.
I do not know what will happen to him when his mother finds out, but one thing I know for sure is that he will grow up to be a gentleman with beautiful skin!
In another city, an elderly man probably did not expect that he would appear in a video clip on the hot search list in China’s cyberspace.
The man, who looks in his 70s in the clip, boarded a subway train in Shanghai last Monday, expecting that he would get a seat because of his age.
Little did he know that the train was packed with travellers. All the seats were taken.
Those meant for the elderly and disabled were occupied by people who looked like they did not deserve to be there.
He stood for a while but no one offered him a place.
Annoyed and frustrated, the angry man told a young woman on the “courtesy seat” to give up the seat but was ignored.
Guess what he did next. He tried to drag the woman up but failed. So, he sat on her lap.
In a city with some 24 million people, anything can happen!
In the video, the woman, who then got up and stood in front of the seated man, can be clearly heard asking, “Why must I give you the seat? If you had behaved nicely, I would have given it to you even if I was sick.”
The man was condemned for bullying the woman and he was also reprimanded for being rude by other passengers.
But the issue here is not his behaviour, or whether he was being rude or polite. He has the priority for a seat on public transport.
A spokesman from Shanghai Metro told www.thepaper.cn the courtesy seats were part of the company’s pledge to create a civilised and caring society.
“These seats are meant not only for the elderly and disabled, but also for pregnant women and those who are not feeling well.
“But in order for them to serve their purpose, we need cooperation from the passengers,” added the spokesman.
As a regular subway traveller, I rarely see others offering their seats to the needy, including pregnant mothers.
On one occasion, I even saw a man in his 50s giving up his seat to another man, who looked older, while the rest were still stuck to the benches.
As I have said before, the vision of forming a civilised and caring society will remain a slogan without cooperation from the people.
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