Life lately: it’s cold and we’re tired

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Up until this past week, my relatives in Urumqi were locked down for over 100 days. Yes, you read that right. A hundred days.

For three months, they could not leave their apartments or their neighborhood compounds, except to go downstairs to participate in mandatory mass Covid testing. They could not go to the grocery store; food and sustenance had to be ordered through a special online platform with limited options. My grandmother was living alone and could not get access to her medication. My cousin was supposed to start a new job in another province and could not get permission to leave.

This past weekend, protests broke out across China following a fire in Urumqi that killed at least 10 people in a high-rise apartment building, most or all of them Uyghurs. The victims had been locked in their apartments, like everyone else. The firetrucks could not get to them in time because the entrance to the apartment building was allegedly locked from the outside by Covid response officials, and access to the building was also blocked off by the residents’ cars, which could not be moved out of the way because they’d been drained of batteries after months of sitting idle. (Here’s a story from NPR about one of the families that died.)

Following the protests, restrictions were loosened slightly. My relatives are now permitted to leave their apartments and walk around the compound, though they can’t leave the compound yet. Every flight that my cousin has tried to book to travel to their new job has been cancelled.

I try to not talk too much about politics on this blog. If you get it, you get it. Even though I’m not an activist or someone whose words have any weight, the things that I say publicly still have potential repercussions for not just me, but the reputation of my employer, the safety of my relatives, and the ability of family members to travel to see their loved ones.

So I’ll just say this: we’re tired. And we’re frustrated. And incredulous. We just want our family and millions of other families in Xinjiang to be able to leave their homes freely and walk onto the streets, under the sun, into grocery stores and workplaces and restaurants and malls and cinemas and airports. We just want for them to be able to live normal lives, as human beings deserve to.

So that’s been going on.

Other stressful things: I went to the doctor for the first time in three years. My chronic fatigue had been getting worse over the past year, to the point where I am often so tired that I exhibit flu-like symptoms and am unable to leave the house. I was desperate for answers.

I did a physical checkup (all vitals were normal), and then some labwork. It came back with an enormous iron deficiency, which my doctor suspects is the main cause of the fatigue. I’m scheduled to go back for an iron infusion by IV, which sounds absolutely terrible, but if it works, I’ll take it.

Another major stressor was Turkish Airlines cancelling my upcoming flight to Asia. When I used their website to rebook my flight to a much longer one — involving an eight-hour layover in the middle of the night — my seat was automatically downgraded in the system, yet there was no refund. I called twice, submitted an online form, and messaged them twice on Facebook. It took two weeks for a new ticket to be issued. I’m pretty frustrated with how difficult it was to get help from them, so I probably won’t be flying again with them in the future.

Some other memories from the past month:

Cat-sitting for two cats. Cats are truly magical creatures.

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Was gifted a vase, as well as cups, plates and spices from Uzbekistan. Just exquisite!

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Went to the Palexert mall to see the new Black Panther. I had no idea that the first scene of the movie (after the prologue) would be set in Geneva. When that title card came up, the entire theatre made confused noises. The movie was enjoyable, and some of the songs were real bangers, especially “Con la Brisa”.

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There is obviously no Thanksgiving in Switzerland, so the decor goes straight from Halloween to Christmas every year.

I also recently went to check out the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, or the Cantonal Fine Arts Museum in Lausanne. I have to say, I was a little surprised that there weren’t a ton of exhibitions, just given how massive the museum looks from the outside. Most of the collections are free, and there are maybe two special exhibits that can be accessed with a ticket for 15 francs.

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I did appreciate how all the signage at the museum was placed at a lower level so that visitors in wheelchairs could also read them.

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For the best museum experience, I would go to Basel. They don’t call it the museum capital of Switzerland for nothing.

Thank goodness it is finally December. I am very much looking forward to the holidays.

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