Beijing was a few hours away. When we got on the train, men and women in office attire were already working on their devices. From where we sat I could see that we were the only ones chatting with each other. The general silence was interrupted by an announcement in Chinese about the next stop. When the train stopped, about half of the people got off the wagon. Moments later the cart was refilled with other commuters in office apparel. Rigid faces from stress and maybe from lack of sleep, the mass turned on their laptops to do some work during the ride.
The Chinese are very intelligent people. There was the older population who didn’t get education and worked in factories, on the fields or on the construction sites. Humble and servile, their main worry was to get food on the table and stay away from the government’s eye. And there was the younger generation who had the chance to study. Tenacious and perseverant, they were the creative minds of the nation. In order to get a job and keep it, they totally had to obey the directives of the Communist party. No effort was too big in order to keep a good job.
Commuting to work wasn’t common for people living in cities in communist Romania. There were exceptions. I had a dear friend and classmate when I was in the elementary school whose mother had to commute to work six days a week. My friend’s mother was a Russian language teacher who couldn’t find a job in our city. She had to walk to the rail station very early in the morning, get on an obsolete train with broken windows and no heating system during winters, ride it for an hour to the border with former Yugoslavia, teach at a school, and then boarding the train in the afternoon to come back home. Finally, after many years of this kind of life, she put herself in danger and crossed the border to Yugoslavia. Obtained a refugee status and moved to Sweden, and came back to Romania after the revolution in 1989.
-To be continued-
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