This morning my best mate and I made a long overdue call to our Chinese friend Yix living in Chengdu, a city about 2000km west of Wuhan. Much to our surprise he answered the video call while out and about in the streets. As he is seven hours ahead of us in Spain, he was on the way to dinner at a restaurant with his wife and friends. For both my friend and me still living under strict lockdown in Europe, this was of course an unfamiliar but reassuring sight. To see Yix and his friends roaming around freely, most of them even without masks, and enjoying what looked like totally normal life was definitely reason to celebrate. However, he put a halt to our visible joy and silenced our whoops of excitement by showing us that the huge, usually very popular restaurant where they were eating was completely empty apart from their small group. He counted just over three months since the government had imposed the quarantine and almost exactly one since it had been lifted but said that people are still simply too afraid to continue with their normal lives.
With all of the noise from the media about untrustworthy data coming out of China, it was nice to hear from a man on the ground that although life hasn’t yet resumed, the virus does actually seem to be under control there. Regardless of our respective country’s mutual suspicions, it is great to hear from this old friend that he and his family are as well as can be. After moving past the politics, we manage to reminisce about our favourite memories, joke about our shared business idea and look ahead to more carefree times when we’ll be able to see each other again.