Winter Solstice Passes

Nicholas Quirke was celebrating the winter solstice or Dōngzhì Festival on 21 December 2020 and his plans included preparing a christmas wishes video which turned out to be unbelievably complex and instead of taking an hour or so he ended up spending the whole day on it and his plans of going out into the city for air and exercise he stayed in. He felt the results were worth it and though it was not correct to find oneself amusing he had a good chuckle when he watched it and even if no one else thought it was funny, he himself was tickled. In the midst of the preparations he found time to honour the adherence of the ’extreme of winter’ which, is one of the most important Chinese and East Asian festivals celebrated by the Chinese and neighbours during the Dongzhi solar term. The traditional food was to eat Jaozi in the North of China, and they enjoyed Peng’s mothers homemade ones for breakfast and at lunch they dined on Glutinous rice balls of peanut and black sesame which is the tradition of the South. Though he enjoyed both he definitely favoured the sweet and colourful rices balls. Thus the winter solstice passed by and into 22 December 2020 when he needed to collect his passport from the Exit/Entry office and he decided to make an early start as he wanted to do some shopping and sit somewhere to do his work. it was now nine months since he had technically outstayed his welcome in China and every month the low level anxiety that accompanied his visit to the bureau was generated by not knowing what would happen to him month to month and he had prepared a few questions to address the situation and perhaps find a more long term solution to his circumstances. He had to queue for a while though he didn’t mind as the officer was very helpful and was able to give him some perspective which might assist in the long term. Feeling buoyed he made his way to ‘The veggie table’ for tea though he took a while to settle down as he ordered a Green tea in Chinese on arrival and the assistant just looked at him blankly and despite repetition he did not get it. Nicholas had to resort to the menu as ‘Lv Cha’ just was not working for him there. A large group of customers had come in and he was aware that he had attracted their attention and indeed they did approach him and attempted to talk but they could only speak mandarin and they could not get beyond where he was from, however he was welcomed warmly with handshakes and smiles. He was still looking for some wrapping paper and had decided to visit the popular Hutong South Lungu Alley, fully of gift shops and trivia but not gift paper in sight. He was also going to a supermarket for Peng in the financial district and as he was no longer anywhere near the subway line he needed to be on he cycled the 5 miles. Fortunately the temperature was a little warmer than he was becoming used to and he thoroughly enjoyed the cycle through the city streets. The supermarket was in the financial district and in an expensive mall and to his delight they sold wrapping paper and ribbon and all was well with the world. It was a short ride home where he enjoyed a smoothie, not having had any lunch or food since breakfast. ‘The Read Sea Diving School’ was an intriguing, tense and little known story based on the true events surrounding the migration of Ethiopia’s Jewish population to the promised land through volatile Sudan in 1979. Since having his watch Nicholas had been monitoring his sleep and over the past week he had not been meeting his sleep goals and in particular deep sleep was evading him with only 15 minutes the previous night. To try and get the best sleep possible he avoided the iPad and listened to some music to which he drifted off before it had finished.

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