When I studied in Beijing in the late 1970s – early 1980s, I lived near the opera building. At first I went once a week, then often every day. It was a bewitching experience.

The building had a long tradition, but it was relatively simply furnished. The simple cement floor allowed visitors to spit noisily on the floor, and that was quite common during the winter months. It was also practical, as many visitors were constantly nibbling sunflower seeds and thus were able to simply spit the shells on the floor. The shells often flew past my head.

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