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  • Writer's pictureAnja

No end in sight

We are now in week 5.

Weeks 1 and 2 were quite relaxed.

Week 3 had some challenges in terms of getting food.

Since week 4 we are no longer allowed to go for a walk.

And now, in week 5, there are worries.

And there is no end in sight.

There is also no date for new talks when an opening might take place. At least not as far as I know.

What is our situation?

Getting food is turning into a task that is exhausting and nerve-wracking:

Since we are no longer allowed to leave the house, the food is delivered. They have to be ordered via mobile phone. Since week 3, the supermarket in the residential area only delivers, so we knew that there was a WeChat group where you can order food, but when we asked other expats in the compound, they only said: "the group is full".

Even JRE (the agency responsible for finding accommodation and other support) did not think it was necessary to take action and point out the possibilities of obtaining food. It was only at the beginning of week 5 that we finally joined this WeChat group. (JRE seems to have had a change of heart)

In this group there is one person who posts the daily offers. This could be a bag of vegetables or fruit, for example. But you have to be very quick. The number is almost always limited. If you're late, you don't get anything. This means: either you sit in front of your phone all day and wait for the "vegetable woman" to text her offer, or you rely on picking up the phone at the right moment.

Choosing, by the way, is not. The motto is: eat or die (of scurvy)....

Besides cucumbers, courgettes and aubergines, there is also cabbage in quantities that neither Denny nor I want to eat or can tolerate. Last time there was a vegetable that looked like daffodils. I would have put it in the vase, but Denny said you could eat it.

Apart from food, there are also propaganda slogans and denunciations in this group. Videos are shared when someone is outside their 4-walls and comments à la "there should be a community patrol" are posted.

The compound supermarket is hopelessly overwhelmed with orders, even though it has had at least 2 weeks to optimise its processes... So it either doesn't deliver at all, or only half. WeChat has a great feature: it has a built-in translator. That is, each language is translated into its own. But it doesn't work for the supermarket. So I try to send my order in advance in Chinese and with pictures, hoping it will be read and delivered. So far, this has not worked reliably.

2. Worries

In addition to the problems of food procurement, there are the social media reports and the reports and calls (distributed by the employer, among others).

For weeks, the numbers of (new) infections have not really gone down. Even though the residential areas are closed and nothing goes in or out. One seriously wonders how this can be, when all people do is sit at home. The media or newsletters provide the answer: viruses have been found on hoodies and vegetable packaging. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but it does something to you. Not immediately and not really clearly. But against the backdrop that not only the possibilities of spreading take on pretty wild forms, but the resulting consequence, if you are tested positive, leaves its mark.

Testing is now done up to twice a day. Partly via self-tests that are distributed or with personal supervision at the garden fence/apartment door (leaving is no longer allowed). These self-tests are uploaded somewhere, but this is only possible for Chinese. We collect the tests and can almost open our own test centre...

If you test positive, where 1 household is tested in 1 tube, you go to a central quarantine. As of yesterday (12.4.) this is still in the hospital in Changchun, the beds there are not all occupied yet. By the way, it doesn't matter if you have symptoms or not, you will be picked up. When the beds in the hospital are full, exhibition halls or tents are set up accordingly. The most diverse types of viruses are crammed into the smallest space.

The employer has put together a packing list for this situation with the advice to please cooperate with the authorities.

By the way, cooperation also means that you may have to watch the authorities kill your pet (but of course this is not explicitly mentioned).

If you come back after a stay in the virus collection centre, your flat has been disinfected by the authorities. An friend from another residential area told me that the flats are wet and soaked afterwards.

If one wants to escape the situation here, i.e. fly to Germany, this is done at one's own request. It is then questionable whether there is a possibility of returning. Certainly not for the relatives, but perhaps for the employee.

I am really not afraid of Corona. In the meantime, it is almost only a cold/flu and in Germany everyone has had it at least twice. But I am afraid of catching it and of the consequences. With the information that is being diligently spread here (viruses on vegetables, hoodies, etc.) it is choking my throat. I'm no longer hungry and don't want to eat anything.

For Denny, the situation is probably different. He has his normal daily routine and moves around in the VW bubble. There is no change here. At least none that is really noticeable. Meetings, deadlines, planning... everything goes on almost normally, except that some factories are closed and solutions have to be found for them. Talking to friends or family at home, everything is fine here, just a bit awkward. The only real emotion I could see was with the question "what will happen to Yuri". At least until he was assured by his boss that if the worst came to the worst, he would make sure that Yuri was allowed to stay alive.

So each of us has his own strategy to deal with this situation.

For me, I've slowly reached a point where I seriously want to leave here. I can't stand this denouncing mentality and propaganda bullshit, I feel restricted and patronised. I'm angry at everything and everyone and have nowhere to let it out.

Since week 4, the partner support programme has also realised that there is a lockdown here in Changchun and is now coming up with some mental health fitness and positive mindset nonsense. (By the way, the PSP team is based in Shanghai, where lockdown has been in effect since 1.4, so they've woken up now).

Seriously guys? I would appreciate it more if you would do your job and look for reasonable (education, training) offers and not tea ceremonies or cooking recipes. Revive your contacts and see to it that people here are not put into central quarantine. See to it that pets are not "dumped". Make sure that families who are planning to leave, for whatever reason, can come back together. And if you are not responsible, make sure that things are placed with the right people.

Then the positive mindset will work.

Easter greetings


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