25th of January 2020
Today is the New Lunar year in China and it is the year of the RAT.
My year, the year of the RAT, has arrived with all its adventures and who knows what!!!
Luckily I don´t believe everything that is written about the Zodiacs. If I did I would probably be on another road today and might have lost some adventures that happen every day!
But I love my China.
There is no doubt about that.
Today I remember the time when I arrived in China and had said good bye to the country where I always felt an outcast and never at home.
I came to China in January and my house was supposed to be ready. I had booked a hotel for 6 days just to have time to move into my house!!
Little did I know!
My house was far from ready and I was told I could not stay in the hotel more than those 6 days, there was a conference or something happening on the 7th day and everything was booked. They do it like this in China. There is a big conference and everyone is staying at a hotel while it lasts.
Well, I had been in the hotel before and some of the staff had in fact become my friends. Everyone was sad for me and they did all they could to find another place for the lady!
Yes, it happened, I went to another one just 5 minutes away, convenient and wonderful and there I could stay as long as necessary.
The Lunar year was around the corner. The preparations and the decorations embraced the Town. Fuzhou was beautiful and I was home, even though in a hotel, away from my future house in MinHou.
I did not know anything about how this Lunar Year was celebrated in my new homeland. I was a newbie but quickly I learned. Walking down the main street and ahead of me was a father with his young son. The father was explaining to his son why almost every restaurant was closed. He explained how the workers all went home to their towns and villages to visit their families and see their children and spouses. He explained to the little boy why they did not go anywhere. Their family and hometown was Fuzhou and the whole family lived there.
Down the road there was a man with his stationary shoe shining place. The father explained to his son that their shoes should be shining when the New Year arrived. The little boy looked at me and my black boots! I asked the father if I could join them and sit with them while his shoes were made beautiful. Not a problem and we continued talking and he told me that his wife was home with his mother and they would be cooking and preparing for the night. He asked if I wanted to join but I did not, I was a bit embarrassed and did not want to be an intruder.
During the night I realised how few people were in the town. Walking around, talking to those I met and getting warm greetings made me realise in a way what this was all about. This time was about reunion. The people I met were smiling, the future was ahead. It was a cold night but who cares, in China we put on nice clothes and inside we were layers. We know that but you don´t!
The situation in my beloved country China is often that the men leave the villages and work in the cities but travel home once a year. How sad is that? Their children grow up and they have not seen their fathers for a long time, months and months pass and no father. Then comes the Lunar year and millions of Chinese travel to be near the loved ones. Many of them stay even for a month. They have worked overtime to be able to spend the time at home. Love is wonderful and it is there, no doubt about it.
The same goes for the students. They go to universities and even to colleges far away and miss their families, but they have no choice. The students go home during the Lunar year as well and the university cities are empty.
It is common that the students work as security guards during their time in University. It gives them extra money because some of the families are poor. I was lucky and in my area there were some wonderful students making sure we were ok. During the night they often, or most of their time, brought their books with them and sat outside studying and making sure no intruders.
I learned a lot about the tradition during my first month in China. I learned to appreciate the opportunity that this time had in store for those who longed for the loved ones. I learned to appreciate the tradition of family in China. There are some that feel the generation gap but mostly it is like it has always been. The elderly take care of the youngest ones, the daughters and sons take care of the parents, the oldest live with their siblings and everyone is content.
Today, the year 2020 the virus has put a stop sign around China. It is roaring its ugly head and many cities are under lock down. Yesterday I spoke to 2 of my families in China. They are stuck; they cannot leave the city and see their parents and grandparents. The situation is horrible and Swine flu memories surface.
I pray for my friends.
I hope that the situation will not last long but I have to say, I fear for the worst.
The government is building hospitals, new ones, and they will rise up quickly.
The sick will be brought inside the new buildings but will there be a cure?
I will hear from more of my students and friends later these next 24 hours. I feel completely useless but at least I can listen and my students can cry and pretend I am holding them close, they know they have a place in my heart and always will.
It feels strange to say happy New Year, when everyone is devastated.
I love you, is appropriate and feels right.
My dear friends in China, I hope everyone remembers you in their prayers and thoughts. If there ever was a time for that, it is NOW.