I live in a fairly upscale apartment complex in Beijing. A lot of people who live here have a lot of money, and the flaunt it–I can’t keep track of the new Beemers, Hummers, and Lexus SUV’s that my neighbors collect. I, one of a few foreigners, peddle in and out on my Giant bicycle. People in this jia yuan (housing estate) are also into pets. There are more yippy yappy little dogs than you can shake a cat at. But one neighbor has a big dog. A really big dog. I’m not up on my dog breeds so I don’t really know what it is. What I do know is that this dog has a sweet face and is spoiled rotten. I used to see it’s human making valiant but futile attempts to take him for walks. But he wouldn’t budge. She’d pull on his leash. When that didn’t work, she’d get behind him and try to push him. He stood firm. More than once I saw her pick the guy up (he’s gotta weigh 50 or 60 pounds!) and carry him. Hmmm. Who’s taking whom for a walk?
Well, it seems that my neighbors have given up and settled upon the quintiessential rich person’s solution: hire him an aiyi — a baby-sitter, or in this case we should say dog-sitter. Every afternoon she appears outside with the dog, puts down a blanket for him, and knits or chats with her friends while he naps (on the blanket) or watches the world go by.
Perhaps you’re wondering about the red door that looks like a very big elevator door. It’s the door to a very large elevator that takes cars into the underground parking area. Seriously!