According to the state travel guide, Tiananmen Square has become a relaxing place for the common people to fly kites and walk. I didn’t see any kites, but they did have the biggest fake floral arrangement I’ve ever seen in my life. And I saw a lot of visitors, many of whom were quite relaxed and presumably common.
Finding myself isolated in a huge crowd of people in the center of China at the start of a holiday week, I noticed that everybody else was taking their picture, so I thought, I’d take their picture, too.
There was some photo action around the flower pot, one of many in town for the holiday week, but the heaviest photo action was on the side of the square facing the Tiananmen Gate and the entrance to the Forbidden City. There were even a couple kiosks with professionals taking tourist snaps and printing them out on the spot.
I spent all of my limited free time in Beijing just looking for photo ops, so I don’t want to seem hypocritical by asking why anyone else is preoccupied with taking pictures.
I merely observe that having your photo taken in front of tourist locations, in a wooden pose, is characteristic of several flavors of Asian culture (they do make the cameras).
A steady stream of snapped shots carefully placed Mao in the background.
And of course, the ubiquitous camera phone makes it possible to take your own self-portrait with the Chairman.
It probably is just a rumor that ‘selfie’ is a Chinese word that means ‘Let’s start on a new photo album’.
Perhaps the ultimate selfie is the Mona Lisalike portrait of Chairman Mao, benevolently, steadily, and subtly smiling across decades of dramatic change.