Fifteen Minutes in the Life of Beijing: Panino Teca café, Sanlitun

Saturday, 7 March 2009

10.27am, Tuesday 9 September 2008

Today, at one of my favourite cafés in Beijing (the salads and panini are so good!), I want to get the table in the window and I want to see prams and mums out for morning tea or some mother’s groups.

I’m not disappointed – two very long tables packed with French women

Only one red pram

Only one toddler

Only one baby

The gorgeous French language in my ears, from every direction

A parking attendant fiddling with his bicycle

Two flies playing tag

A waitress with a muffin

A row of bicycles

A chef in a fifties diner cap wearing red Crocs

A cab

An SUV with diplomatic number plates

A girl with a fuffly toy dangling from her bag, unlocking her bike

A waitress carrying a pot of fresh tea

I think those flies are trying to have sex

A disheveled girl with a backpack arrives; the chef grabs her shoulders affectionately, I think she’s late for work

A girl with an iPod enters

George Michael song starts up

My San Pellegrino is delivered

A man on a three wheeler motorized bicycle with a tray

The girl with the iPod appears as a waitress

A fancy car – I can never tell what make

A middle aged woman on a bicycle

Piercing laughter

An eldery couple, nicely dressed

A woman carrying a plastic tub with plastic bags in it

Dishevelled waitress appears

A car

A cab

A woman from the other long table comes to join the women at this long table

A dozen guards march past in formation

A series of six men ride past on bicycles with Olympic passes around their necks

A girl carrying a bag from “forrestprincess”

A car

A car

A squeal from a child

Someone drops a spoon

A man walking past sending an SMS on his phone

The chef leaves carrying what looks like a pile of white sheets

A van with yellow plates

A waitress goes outside

A man carrying a golf umbrella

No sign of beggars

No sign of man hocking pottery in cart

Waitress comes back inside

Man walks past dragging a suitcase on wheels

A man on a bicycle with slabs of meat in plastic bags strapped to the back

A man walks past sending an SMS on a mobile phone

The chef re-enters with the sheets

A woman with a backpack and a Paul Frank monkey tshirt

A car with diplomatic plates

A car

A man on a motorized scooter

A van


A woman on a bicycle

A man on a bicycle with a tray

A man with a backpack

A cab

A car

The parking attendant running

A van, the driver is on a mobile phone

A car

A cab

A loud thump

A police car with flashing lights, no siren

A car with a Chinese flag fluttering

A man on a bicycle with a large basket strapped to his bag

A young girl with an eco bag

A cab

A Jenny Lou’s motorized delivery bicycle with tray

A cab

A cab

A well-dressed Western woman

A whirring toy sound

A girl with a large bag and a pony tail

A massive black van with diplomatic plates

A woman taking out the garbage

The parking attendant looks bored

My friend arrives – au revoir!

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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