If the Beijing Olympic Games have left a mark on Fu Yiquan, it is his weak hearing.
Fu Yiquan on the patrol. [Beijing News]
When Beijing won its bid to host the 2008 Games in 2001, Fu was on his routine patrol along his street near the Temple of Heaven in downtown Beijing. "Suddenly the celebrating fireworks broke behind my ears just like a thunder, and my ears felt numb right away," the 103-year-old recalls.
Fu never fully recovered, but he doesn't grumble. "Whoever set out the fireworks behind me, they didn't mean to hurt me, they just wanted to celebrate Beijing's winning of the right to host the Olympics."
Forgiving as he is, Fu, born in 1905 is quite strict about his work - patrolling his neighborhood as a volunteer, a job he's been doing for 30 years.
Fu was born to a poor family in Shandong, east China, when China was still in the period of the Qing Dynasty. When he was seven years old, he went to school for one year. Then he followed his carpenter father as an apprentice to make a living.
Dressed in a white T-shirt, grey pants and black cloth shoes, Fu looks no different from other elderly people in the street. But the "capital security volunteer" red armband tells his mission. Now the oldest of Beijing's 400,000 Olympic volunteers, Fu makes three patrols every day, checking that doors are locked and the trash cleaned up.
"This is what I can do for the Olympics. I can't go to the stadiums to work, but I can make sure our community is safe and in order," says Fu, smiling. "Hosting the Olympic Games shows that our country has grown stronger. I feel so proud."
His patrol route starts from his traditional style hutong house at the east end of Xicaoshi Street and runs to the western end, a distance of about 500 meters. The street, which used to be a typical hutong (alley) with houses on both sides, now has only one side with homes.
The other side, now replaced by bulletin boards and a large area of greenland with carefully placed flowers that echo with the slogans on the board "New Beijing, Great Olympics".
"Beijing has changed so much, especially after we won the bid to host the Olympics. I see a new Beijing every day," Fu says.