Back to Normal? What is normal? Was normal!
Are we back to normal yet?
That is the question I get asked often about living in China.
I think we are back to normal now. I mean, we are wearing masks, and the authorities know how to move quickly in response to an outbreak, but we are sort of back to normal. More or less…
My hesitance comes from the fact that things move so quickly in Beijing and in China on a typical day anyway. I don’t think it has ever been ‘normal’ since the day I arrived almost five years ago.
There are always things being built, changed, moved, worked on, and malls, stores and restaurants closing and opening in different formats almost weekly – yep, things move that fast here.
There is one place that has remained the same during my time here: the Hutong (traditional alleyway) that is close by where I live. For the first time in a long while, I walked through this area as I was taking a shortcut on my way to the barbers and getting out of the Beijing heat as quickly as I could.
It was great to walk through because when the pandemic first struck, all of the local residential areas were shuttered up and the alleyways were off-limits, and the locals put in very tight controls. If you were not from the local community, you could not get into that area and definitely not cut through as a way to a shortcut.
After things started to relax a couple of months back, you still had to prove you were local and you have a positive health app indicator to get access as a foreigner. I wouldn’t even try as I knew they would be a bit curious towards me. Not because of any nastiness or anything, but because they wanted to protect themselves and the local community, which is totally understandable.
After all, they don’t know me and are unsure how long I have been in Beijing. Given the horror stories about the pandemic in the western world, then I absolutely get it. I mean, the US and the UK government decision at the start of the pandemic were woeful – and people who were in power at that time should be facing prosecution.
Even now that P***K Boris Johnson is making rash choices based on whatever mood takes him. That is my perception anyway, I might be wrong, but I am right about the P***K thing, though, am I not?
China, however. Yes, the pandemic response performed correctly to protect their people.
Things are getting back to normal.
(The western voice: the ‘new normal’ is hollow for most people)
Back to my shortcut for a haircut!!
Only now are things relaxed, and as I said, I was able to cut through the Hutong. The locals were as friendly as I remember, and everyone was casual and relaxed about the foreigner. I even got a smile and a wave from a lady who had set up shop from her living room window.
So now when I am asked the question about Beijing being back to normal, my answer will be a simple Yes…
Well, as normal as what Beijing gets, that is!