Before the virus, it seemed unimaginable that my colleagues at the office in Beijing would brave the snarl of traffic jams in their own four wheels.
Most of the cars parked at work usually belong to managers or supervisors – people who had put in years there or brought seniority to their position, and were rewarded with a designated space, surely one of the most coveted possessions in Beijing, if not most major Chinese cities.
But just the other day, my colleague – a local who is not a supervisor, manager or anyone with years of seniority – announced that he had ditched the subway for his own Chevy while we were chatting after work.
He used to commute in on the subway before the virus, he admitted. But now his navy-blue sedan ferried him to and from his home on the other side of town – because, in his words, “It’s safer.” The potential risk associated with the subways had kept him away.
He didn’t need to spell out what that risk was. We had all lived the coronavirus since late January, learning to avoid indoor and unventilated spaces crowded with people to steer clear of potential infections. Subways check every box in terms of places you shouldn’t be.
For the vast majority of people in China, the novel coronavirus epidemic has meant a delay in getting back to normal – whether work or school – and even more time off.
But as China grapples with its War on the Epidemic (战疫情), news organizations in China have seen an explosion of news stories, which has left people like me – editors at these organizations – very, very busy, making for a most unusual winter and especially winter holiday.
The news doesn’t take a vacation, so of course we have always had people on duty during the holidays, and this year I was among them. We usually don’t see a lot of news at this time – maybe a handful of stories on a shift, if that — but of course you never know what stories might break, so you need someone available to edit whatever comes in.
Well, by the time the Chinese New Year vacation began, of course the novel coronavirus had already emerged as major news, particularly with the lockdown of the city of Wuhan just before Chinese New Year’s Eve. On Chinese New Year’s day, when I came in for my shift, I remained busy from the moment I booted up my computer, right up until minutes before I powered it off, editing a deluge of news. This became a harbinger of things to come.
Back in 2011, Kim Lee made headlines after posting shocking photos of her bruised and beaten face, the result of domestic abuse by her husband. This incident would catapult her into the public spotlight, and she would go on to divorce him and win a landmark case in China that would pave the way for others.
But now, after years of being hailed as a hero for domestic violence victims, Lee has been under fire since her public post expressing forgiveness to her ex-husband.
2020 will welcome the Year of the Rat, the Chinese zodiac sign for some family members, which has prompted me to sift through online stores in search of a very traditional Chinese New Year gift for those about to enter their Chinese zodiac year: red socks.
I always thought that only the color mattered. After all, superstition claims that wearing red in your Chinese zodiac year – from red underwear and red long johns to red jackets and almost anything else painted in this brilliant hue – supposedly bestows luck upon the wearer, along with an extra layer of protection from any misfortune in the coming year.
But then, while perusing the endless red socks listed in Alibaba’s Tmall, I kept noticing a curious decoration on the bottom of many of the options – the characters cǎi xiǎorén (踩小人, step on villains) and an image either of a tiny person.
When you live in a country that doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas, people are bound to interpret the holiday in both familiar and fascinating new ways. That includes the goods people associate with Christmas.
Alibaba’s Taobao, one of the most popular online shopping platforms, can offer a unique window into how Christmas looks and feels here in China, through online products. And since I’m a frequent Taobao user, I’d like to share the top 5 best-selling online holiday goods in China that come up when you search for 圣诞 (shèngdàn), the Chinese word for Christmas.
Ever since I’ve moved back to China, Singles Day — or Double 11 — has been a part of my yearly shopping routine. And this year was no exception. Once again I was among the millions who participated in the global shopping gala, from buying presale items to even staying up until midnight to be the first to snap up a coveted scarf in short supply (yes, I got it!).
Since I’ve participated year after year on Alibaba’s Tmall platform, it has given me a unique perspective on what has become the world’s largest shopping event (generating more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined). So I’d like to share a few takeaways from my experience, and also some tips for anyone who wants to dig into this event:
When the 15-year-old skiing superstar Eileen Gu announced her decision to switch her nationality from the US to China, so she could represent the latter in its upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing set for 2022, it made headlines throughout the internet. Gu had already racked up considerable wins competing for the US team in skiing, which meant she didn’t need to swap passports for a ticket to the Olympics (though, given China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, she couldn’t keep them both). Some have wondered, why would she give up US citizenship to play for China?
Fans of Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke will want to check their calendars for November this year. That’s when the two will lead the new romantic comedy film “Last Christmas”, which I just wrote about for WWAM BAM. Here’s an excerpt:
The movie centers on a downcast young woman named Kate, played by Clarke, who winds up working as an elf at a year-round Christmas store, where she also happens, in one memorably awkward moment, to run into Golding’s character Tom. If the trailer is any measure, his mysterious presence appears to spur a turn of events in her life, including a little romance.
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