Sunrise on a New World

Nicholas Quirke was astounded by the sunrise on the morning of 8 November 2020, not only because it radiated a golden light, casting a magical spell over Beijing, but also because with it came the news that president Trump had been defeated. The brilliance of the sunrise emphasised the sense that the day was breaking on a new world and he had his own spontaneous celebration and performed a little jig, sincerely hoping this was sounding the death knell of the right wing agenda that seemed to be sweeping the world. Whatever was to come it made for a happy morning as he left at 7.30 to make his way to his Sunday morning lesson. His high spirits did not translate to the classroom which was not very inspiring and he found one of the students particularly disruptive and his lack of experience came into play as he really didn’t know how to handle it properly. He temporarily separated her from the group which seemed too be effective but when she started to play up again even this measure didn’t work. As with all things it would pass and he would do some research on classroom discipline before his next lesson. He was however relieved when it was over and he received a message from Peng to meet him at the Fu Hua Zhai BoBo restaurant. This was a cake store that he only had a glimpse of the gloomy interior of on the first day of release from quarantine back in March. Then, cakes were being sold on the street and he could not go in but its authentic looking Qing dynasty decor was appealing and he was now excited to have the chance of venturing into this beautiful looking echo of the past. BoBo is a type of Manchus pastry favoured by the royals in the palace, where the founders grandfather was a chef in the imperial Qing court and everything about the shop gave the impression of being a Forbidden City relic with crimson wood doors, green window frames, and gold-on-black as well traditional kang armchairs or wooden beds with bright yellow cushions. The elegant waitresses wafted through the tea rooms and you could even see the chefs at work, rolling pastry and producing the cakes fillings. The ancestral recipes which, recreated the classic flavors of pastries once eaten by Emperors and their retinue, were absolutely delicious, and Peng’s descriptions the ingredients and when and where to eat was a wonderful lesson. It was however too much to eat in one go and once he had drunk the exquisite almond tea and sampled a few of the cakes they arranged to take the rest away with them and head back to the apartment. The journey home included an investigative and interesting walk through more of the winding streets of the neighbouring Hutong. The evening was spent watching a film ‘Triangle’ which, was another intriguing thriller set on a ghost ship, the concept of which was another mind bending experience, reminding him of the theory infinite regression which was not a good thought to be going to sleep on.


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