IN DEPTH


Coverage from the 29th summer Olympics

Nonetheless, as a taxi driver confided to me after dropping off another group of bemused foreigners - following a roundabout trip of hand signals and hurried phone calls to Mandarin speaking friends - most Beijing residents can't wait for it all to be over so that life can get back to normal.

The yellow clouds of smog that usually swallow up Beijing, have successfully been chased away, but when the surrounding factories are turned back on, and the other 50 per cent of Beijing's cars are allowed back onto the streets, in all likelihood the spring freshness will return to dusty dryness.

Beijing has put on a spectacular show for the world
The army of migrant workers, who had been banished for the duration of the games, will quickly return to take on the menial and badly paid jobs Beijingers usually pass up.

And although the Chinese capital does have a new public transport system thanks to the Olympics, under the pressure of 18 million residents, it will soon lose its luster.

But the world has seen the best that China has to offer - both in the sporting arena and on the streets of the capital, and for the most part its response has been very positive.

Despite the best efforts of thousands of foreign journalists chasing after dissidents and protestors, the government has managed to keep the lid on any major demonstrations without creating too much of an impression of a nation in the grip of total government control.

For a new generation, Beijing will be remembered for the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, not tanks on Tiananmen.

So while the potted plants that have covered Beijing in a blanket of color will quickly wilt in the late summer heat, the memories of two weeks in August will live on in Beijing's collective memory to reassure its citizens that they do live in one of the greatest capital cities in the world.