In The Lazaretto: Day 11

Nicholas Quirke was looking out at another sunny day on 11 March 2020 and as the day of liberation was approaching, preparations in the apartment were being made to give him some independence in the wider Chinese world. His Mi-band would help him to pay for everything and make his way around without having to continually pay cash for it. After handling money it was always wise to wash hands and keeping it clean and on a screen made a lot more sense. It was his turn to clean the flat, dust, vacuum and mop and through he felt oddly fatigued, despite the early night. They did their Temperature readings; all good, had a weigh in, even better, a consecutive drop in his weight meant he had lost 6.93lbs in 10 days and then he started the apartment clean. It was a tiring endeavour though at the end of it they shared a Vegan meal for lunch which looked like meat and tasted heavenly, clearly an art mastered here of simulating meat dishes. During lunch he received a message from his friend Terry in Denver who was hosting a WeChat discussion on tea, specifically Gongfu Cha and tea ware, and invited him to join the chat in the evening. It was definitely time for a massage in the chair and he was getting so used to its pushing, pulling, pinching and pummelling he fell asleep during its ministrations. They booked him an appointment at the Beijing Massage Hospital and with 4 more days before they were liberated, started discussing what they would do, where they would eat and after that, come the Monday he would be fending for himself again with Peng at work and his days free. It was going to be problematic moving anywhere else in China at the moment as if he moved to another city, he was supposed to be in Shanghai in March, he would have to endure another 14 days quarantine and as much as he had enjoyed the novelty of the experience, doing it alone was a very different story. There was a always something to do either in the apartment, or for entertainment, reading or writing, and he recalled a discussion from his youth when talking about unemployment with his friend Helen and declaring, ‘There is always a Jigsaw to do.’ Not that he had found one here, though he had uncovered an exclusive drinks cabinet with Scottish and Japanese single Malt whiskies and vodka.. After exercise hour when he started to watch the new, live action ‘ Lion King’, he needed something mindless, they consumed a supper of smoothies and he sat down to some writing before discussion time at 9.30pm with Terry and two Chinese ladies, Jasmine and Darcy. It was a fascinating discussion and he learned a lot about the art of making tea in China as opposed to the Tea Ceremony he attended in Kyoto. Whilst he liked the spiritual aspect of Japans ritualised ceremony, in particular the wearing of a Kimono, he was fascinated by the artistry of the Chinese Sommelier and the variety of teas, like wines that it was possible to indulge in. It was now on his list of things to discover in China and something he would encourage Peng to attend with him. It was late by the time he finished and it was to bed and sleep.


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