Ni Xing (逆行)

Nicholas Quirke was as amused on 20 September 2020 by the fact that there was an expression in China for ‘going the wrong way down a one way street‘, as Peng was appalled by the fact that there was no word for it in English. ‘Ni Xing’ was an activity he often took part in and as they cycled against the oncoming traffic on the way to Peng’s parents home he enjoyed the thought that the term could actually describe his time in China. It somehow captured the out of place, out of sequence, swimming against the tide, sensations he had felt since arriving and living in the alien culture. The expression had taken on an even greater significance in China during COVID19 and there were now Ni Xing Tian Shi (Ni Xing Angel), which was a tag applied to the heroes and heroines of the time—the medical workers who have been fighting COVID-19 and trying their best to save every patient’s life while risking their own. The time at his parents was brief, They were away on holiday and plants needed watering but it was an opportunity for him to snoop in another Chinese home and he definitely coveted some of the ornaments that would not have been out of place on his own Shelf of Shame. It was a short ride on the subway to Livat Mall for lunch, though it was thriving now and they had to wait 30 minutes to be seated at the restaurant Simmer Huang where they enjoyed a delicious ‘simmered’ mix of spicy paste, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables cooked in front of them. Peng needed new shorts and Nicholas needed a new bag. Both desires were satisfied. The drank tea, ate cake and did some work before heading back home where they watched the intense ‘The Devil All the Time’ a 2 hour thriller set in the Bible Belt of West Virginia and Ohio and featuring a handful of British stars. Sleep came swiftly when he finally climbed into bed.



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