I am in this hotel Beijing Hotel that is connected to the Raffles Hotel and both are very top hotels. It is very surprising, then, that there are no decent coffee or drink places where one could sit and chat. I found the same problem outside also. Except for some areas that appear to be patronized by tourists, it appears that places like bars or coffee houses are not many. Clearly this is cultural and one does see many Starbucks, but I think this is one area that outsiders coming to China have to get used to.
Another problem — maybe that is because of the area of our Hotel — in prime tourist area near Tiananmen Square — there seem to be too many people targeting to offer ‘massage services’. This does become irritating particularly if you are walking alone.
On the other hand, more you see China, more you realize how fast this country is changing. For example a few years ago at conferences like this, there was hardly a research paper written by researchers working in China — in just a few years time period, they now dominate many research conference. Just a look at the program at this conference shows that very clearly. When I mentioned this to some of my friends, their reaction: “But are they doing original research or incremental research”? Similar statements are made about other progress in China — Have you seen their remote villages or have seen their family life — etc. What these people forget is that to judge a country (or a person) one should see trajectory not only the current position. And when you see the progress made by CHina in the last 20 years and where they are today and project that to the next 20 years — the thought is scary if you are to compete with China. I am very happy for China, but worried about the consequences for my original country (India) and adopted country (USA).