Man Tou

Nicholas Quirke was frustrated that his plans for the day had to be shelved on 10 February 2021 as he developed an acute back pain and by the time he was due to go out he felt quite incapacitated. Unfortunately he was going to have to go to the Exit /Entry Bureau as from the 11th, News Years Eve they were shut for the Spring Festival Holiday and it was now or never for him to request another extension. The early morning had seemed fine and on what was 29 December in the lunar calendar they were breakfasting on Man Tou, a simple flour and water dough bun. Plain it may look but toasted and spread with peanut butter it was delicious. It was not long before a pain in his back started to affect his posture and sense of well being. He allowed a moment of anxiety to creep in and hoped that the aches and pains were not an omen of a darker plan that the Chinese officials had for him. As he trudged off to Lama Temple and the Bureau he was so focussed on the discomfort that he had no space in his mind to worry about what the outcome might be. Though there were not a lot of people there the officials seemed to take a very long time handling the visa and stay permits requests and the sitting and standing as he waited agitated him further. He was surprised then, once he had sat down and handed his paperwork over to literally have his approval to stay for a further month wishing 3 minutes and no questions asked. Relief seemed to offer him a modicum of repose from the irritant and he went to have a tea to celebrate the fact that by the time he had to apply again he would have been living in China and with Peng for over a year. Though he was close to his original intention for the day he still felt to unwell to see it through and he made his way home, taking a detour to Xidan and Joy City to buy something new that he could wear on News Years day as tradition demanded. In pain, hot and frustrated he could not find anything suitable and headed back to the apartment wishing he had not strayed from the path in the firstly place. A session in. The massage chair, some medication, and more importantly some food and water seemed to ease the suffering he felt he was enduring and by the evening he was feeling perky and ready for the evening film ‘Fear of Rain’ which, though it tackled the tough subject of schizophrenia provided enough entertainment to keep him focused and awake, two states of being that once the film ended dissipated and allowed him to sleep for a satisfying 7 hours.


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