*Written last Sunday but only getting out now due to photo issues!*

After arriving at the Apple store last week 5 minutes in advance for my booked appointment I had to wait an additional 15 minutes beyond the scheduled time. 5 minutes later was diagnosed that my pad had a hardware issue and they needed to order me a replacement. Had contact with about 6 or 7 members of staff in total over the course of the 2 visits, and not one proactively spoke or greeted me in Chinese (this is in contrast to when I’m in Japan when most service folks will first ask you, in Japanese, if Japanese is OK). I’m sure this is very welcome for a lot of foreign customers, but I can help but feeling its a little sad. (One of the staff members was clearly dismayed when I told him there he could just speak Chinese, furrowing his brows and giving a protracted “oooookkkkk….” before seemingly reluctantly switching over. Anyhow! New Ipad now in possession and after spending an hour or so already re-downloading apps, transferring files and signing back into accounts, I still have digital tidying up to do this afternoon.

When to a friends “house” in the hutongs (the Beijing back-alleys, which the city used to consist nearly entirely of) for a few games of Go. Whilst queuing for the subway on the way over a 60+ lady decided to just stand in front of me without saying anything, after I pointed out in my best-friendly-voice that I had been queuing, she rather irkedly told me not to educate her, to which I apologetically stated my intention was not to educate, merely point out that there was a queue; at this point she rather angrily told me to shut up. After a couple more attempts to make the communication more effective I embraced my naivety and put my soundproof earmuffs on (maybe I should have read the signs and abandoned this earlier..) . There is a saying here that its not that old people are getting badder (*sic), its that the bad people are getting older, a reference to the social and educational climate (a lot of people having only attended primary school) that a lot of today’s 60+ folks grew up in. Indeed, when I arrived at my friend’s house and told him what had happened and how I was still a little flustered from the run-in, that was also his interpretation (he also blamed , a narrative that I hear a lot, but never in published form, to explain related phenomenon). Despite losing all three matches yesterday, was nice spending the day in the hutongs, with the low terraces and overhanging trees, one can nearly entirely forget that they’re living in a rowdy sprawling metropolis.

The local university entrance exam (Gaokao) is being held this week so we’ve been asked to stay off campus (not clear why this has been done this year; perhaps to minimise Covid variables, or simply because the infrastructure for online teaching is in place and they deem the downsides of doing so to have been mitigated?). Zhouzhou was out at a friends birthday party yesterday and brought Arthur along. You’ll see the iridescent bruising on his cheek from a mid-week crash! Nana said she couldn’t sleep the night it happened and kept on seeing Arthur’s bruised and swollen face, Zhou and I both slept soundly.

Living in Beijing. Everyday trivialities, trivial thoughts.