Why don’t you just move?

Day 46 of the Shanghai lockdown is about to end and yet we wait for our release. We’ve had our freedom severely limited, further still — to the point where we cannot buy food ourselves and have to rely on rations, whatever the powers higher up are deciding to send our way. One of the […]

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Dreaming of days

Day 24. At night I dream of my brother who treats me to some Dutch food, the familiar place in our hometown. I want to pay him back my part but for some reason cannot. I doze off and I dream that a positive case lives in our bathroom. It has no shape, I just […]

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Our building’s WeChat group

Tuesday the 12th of April, day 12 of our lockdown. We receive self-tests and need to share the photos in the WeChat group of the building. There are 5 floors, about 4 households on each, so about 60 people live here — 39 of which are in the group. We’ve already been photographing our self-test […]

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Nerves and barricade tape

Zero covid China: cases rise and everyone gets nervous. All over the city, living compounds, malls, schools, offices, are locked up with residents, shoppers, teachers, staff all inside. Sometimes a delivery guy is extremely unlucky and runs into his proverbial Hotel California. It’s not really good or bad, it’s just the situation here that suits […]

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Her in Shanghai

I first watched “Her” nine years ago and loved it then: a science fiction movie, yet on a much more intimate level than pew-pew laserbeams or spacetravel. “Her” shows how difficult love is between humans, and how easy it can be between a human and a conscious yet bodyless operating system. When the movie ends, […]

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Cities you’ve never heard of make up a huge part of China

Written for Dao Insights Last week, a colleague told me she’s from the same hometown as Zhou Enlai (周恩来 the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China): Huai’an (淮安) in Jiangsu province (江苏省). I had never heard of that place, and it’s the same thing when people tell me they’re from Kaifeng (开封) or […]

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Characters in the wild

Three characters in the wild: “油坊 Yóufáng” (Oil mill). In the back of the building was indeed an oil press. Eva tells me about her grandpa who also had a 油坊 business, how people can bring nuts or something and then for a tiny fee her grandpa would turn it into oil. The second one […]

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Middle Country

A world map that is upside down is just as correct as the one we’re used to. In China they use these kinds of world maps, with China in the middle. China’s Chinese name, 中国, Zhōngguó, means middle country. If you now think “OMG but why are they so arrogant they have to put China […]

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Life in a café

“Did you grow?”, “No? What do you mean?”, “Well, I meant you maybe have grown fat.” A lady pruning flowers with all the patience in the world. She puts them in a vase before deciding they should be cut a bit shorter: “This is too high over the edge.” Another lady wears a green hat, […]

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BUT!!!!!!!!

“可是”, which means ‘but’, was my filler word in Chinese, until Eva started making fun of me I started to change it. Every time I said 可是 she screamed “BUT!!!!!” Like: “It’s not perfect 可是 we can still go there” “BUT!!!!!” “This thing is that 可是 that thing is this” “BUT!!!!!” “It’s raining 可是 it’s […]

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