KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We visited Tiananmen Square at the end of a very long day. Anil stayed behind for a quiet Sunday morning while the three of us returned to the Dirt Market for another look at the amazing antiques. After collecting Anil for lunch, we toured the Temple of Heaven and then headed to the center of the city around 5:00 pm. We had already been on our feet for several hours and many kilometers but we couldn't miss seeing such an infamous place. The events of June 1989 were all fresh in our minds as we got out of the taxi and entered the Square.
Again, reality was so very different from expectations. I had imagined a vast empty space and instead we found the large square filled with huge floral displays, a massive banner-draped temporary wall and a spouting fountain. To make it worse, there were several buses, vans and limousines parked in the central area. We learned that the floral displays were erected to celebrate National Day on October 1st and that the wall and vehicles were there in preparation for the upcoming 17th National People's Congress session.
Hundreds of Chinese tourists stood in the Square along with us, gaping at the imposing buildings on all sides. There were soldiers stationed everywhere, many in tight formation, and we knew that the entire area was carefully monitored by close-circuit cameras. There is a ceremony each evening when the flag is lowered, but we were too late to get a good view; the early arrivals had already formed a tight circle around the base of the flagpole.
As I turned out, it was a good thing we visited the Square when we did. The next morning when we arrived to see the Forbidden City at the north end of Tiananmen, we found it completely closed to the public and filled with all the official cars of the Congress delegates. It was now nothing but a huge parking lot.