Yesterday, in the morning rush hour, I was puzzled by the presence of three fully-tricked-out SWAT team members carrying automatic weapons at the Dongdan station on Beijing's line 1.
Today, in the afternoon rush hour, I could have used the stern hand of the law. At 5:30 pm, the eastbound line 1 between Jianguomen and Guomao was so crammed with humanity that it brought to mind the glory days of the Tokyo subway when we lived there. There is a distinct feeling of having pressure on every surface of the body that I associate mainly with rush hour Asian-capital subways. I don't particular fear it (or love it), but it's part of the sensory package of Tokyo, and of Beijing's lines 1 and 2.
Then, as the train rolled into Guomao, most of this vast throng wanted to get off, including me. All were yelling at once, including me,下车! 下车! -- xia che! xia che! (getting off! getting off!) -- and had to push through a band of young country-looking men who stood inside the car right in front of the door. I finally popped out on the other side of them, as if from a rugby scrum, reaching the platform as the car's doors were closing behind me. At that second, with human pressure suddenly removed from all sides of my body, I instantly realized that my wallet wasn't there. I was wearing a business suit, with my wallet in a place it wouldn't have left by accident. There had been a distinctly manhandled sensation in fighting through the line at the door.