The danger of breaking the intelligent, well thought-out rules 


Child-train-window Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

Well, "quarantine" is supposed to be 40 days, so that's cool. Or at least it used to be, in the days when they quarantined the sick, not the well. It's easy to lose track of time and lose interest in the world when one is locked down/in, but some news manage to make it through the grey wall of indifference clouding my brain. 

The other day, an evening before dark, I heard a helicopter flying low over my neighbourhood; so low that I was actually thinking it might crash into my house. Could it be... corveillance? (Corona surveillance.) Surely not, I thought. But yes, two days later I read in the Majorca Daily Bulletin Majorca Daily Bulletin that the local government is indeed flying low over the entire island, trying to catch those who "break the rules" by for example being inside a car with the windows rolled up. 

Not for the first time I thought about my life in Hong Kong and the similarities between that island and Mallorca. I thought about my travels in China with its communism which, at the time, I mostly found surreal and hilarious. One example was being arrested for having hairspray.

Arrested for hairspray


That day I was more than 3,000 kilometres away from Beijing and moving in the opposite direction of that glorious city made more glorious by hosting the Olympic Games (to accommodate which people were being kicked out of their own houses even as late as two weeks before the opening ceremony, the houses being torn down to make way for flower beds) - but in all fairness it was the Olympic Games which had forced the government to take such necessary measures. It's for your own safety.

So the helicopter thing - I think it's a litte bit like that. No, a lot like that. Exactly like that, in fact. 

Meanwhile, all this could have been avoided if China hadn't covered up what they knew was a dangerous epidemic. They stopped flights between Wuhan and other cities in China, but allowed international flights, for example. Me, I prefer the train, but that's beside the point. On that same train trip in 2008, I came across this poster: 

Summer-2008-Guangzhou-to-Lanzhou-Train-restaurant-car-Pensive-before-the-Beijing-Olympics Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

One World One Dream. At the time I just smiled and thought, aw, good design! But now I can't help thinking: Belt and roadBelt and road, take over Africa, take advantage of the whole world being shut up at home leading to deflation, then global depression... then: One World! Led by you know who! That's the kind of thing I absolutely can't help thinking about, especially when I see each country's government joining in with various degrees of enthusiasm. 

But oh, I miss train travel in China. 

Corona-train-conductor Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

P.S. If you're not a fan of the Chinese Communist Party and all it has done to its own people and now the world, you should learn Cantonese! Cantonese is a pet peeve of the CCP and nothing irks them more than people being rebellious by speaking it. I give Skype lessons from my quarantine. 100% virus free. 



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Hell is other people 

Corona-Chinese-lunchbreak Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

- yes that's what Sartre said in his play No Exit. But after 26 days of lockdown, I for one am starting to look at other people with something resembling fondness. Of course I can imagine that people who already live together and have done for some time wish they had a room - or a city - to themselves. But for me, when it starts getting dark and the lights come on all over the neighbourhood, I sometimes wish I had had the wherewithal some time in the late 90s to acquire something like a husband and two children. 

Corona-Chinese-relaxing Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

Because if I had that, we could have spent each night in lockdown playing Cho Dai Di. 

Cho Dai Di is without exception the best card game in the world. It's really like life itself: You need good planning but also luck and a little bit of evil. 

When I lived in Hong Kong/China we used to go on "language seminars" into the hinterlands of China, playing cards from morning till night while exploring everything that great country (so much more than a producer of viruses!) had to offer. The days would be: Hotel breakfast with cards, wandering around the town or countryside all day stopping for lunch with cards, then back to the hotel to shower, followed by dinner and cards. It was heaven. 

Corona-cooks-relaxing Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

My highest wish, "when all this is over" (blah) is that I find three like-minded people who love cards - as long as it's Cho dai di - and who want to play at least once a week. 

Oh, and learn Cantonese from me on Skype! You know you want to. 

(The photos are called "Chinese people relaxing". It's a rare sight. )

Health, mental, physical. News from Mallorca

Corona-Koldbrann Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

I'm sitting at my dining table as usual. It's Groundhog Day. Outside in the garden a welcome sun shines on the orange hairs of my ginga brute, Koldbrann. He is staring at me. When I wave, he wags his tail slowly, tentatively. Could it be dinner time again? (As if he doesn't know to the second what time it is.) 

I don't know what I'd do without Koldbrann! For some reason, probably because they know not what to do, the local government has decided to keep everyone indoors ell the time, and have closed all parks, woods and beaches. Here, lockdown really is lockdown. However, you are "allowed" to go out on your balcony. 

Corona-lemon-tree Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

I get that everybody is afraid, afraid to make mistakes, to make the situation worse. Instead of trusting people to act in their own best interest by self-quarantining and staying away from others, however, the national government has decided to punish people with quite extraordinarily heavy fines for, for example, exercising outside. They call it "non-essential activities."

I wonder if that is such a good idea. Isn't this a time when it's more important than ever to do the old mens sana in corpore sano? Shouldn't we be exercising the hell out of especially our lungs, by doing aerobic exercises outside in the fresh air? In Norway and Britain people are encouraged to go out and exercise, as long as they don't do it in groups or drive for long distances, crossing county borders. 

Corona-grass-flowers Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

Just before the weekend, the government announced that it would increase punishments for disobedience, crack down harder, put up more checkpoints etc. At the same time, they keep pushing the lockdown back and back - April 26th is the latest date - without presenting a plan for what will happen on that date. Now we see people starting to take risks, to challenge the authorities by "recklessly" going running, cycling - and swimming. Yes yesterday I read in the Majorca Daily Bulletin that a man had been "caught" swimming to an island in full diving gear, by marine police patrolling the coast.  

Human nature! I think it would be wiser to appeal to people's sense of responsibility instead of threatening, fining and cracking down. No one wants to catch this illness (although I'm starting to think if "everybody will get it" perhaps it's better for us younger fogeys to catch it now before we enter the danger zone in earnest) so I think most people will behave responsibly. A small minority won't give a shit of course, but they wouldn't have anyway. I think these over strict measures will just make the more rebellious take greater risks out of spite. I can feel it in myself: I'm not asking for permission to go outside my bloody house! 

Corona-Bellver-castle Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

So if I didn't have Koldbrann I would be committing a crime if I went for a walk in the morning, without any purpose except keeping healthy physically and mentally. Walking is THE best exercise, in my opinion. So thank God for Koldbrann. When we're out together and I see a police car, I just wave in a manly, 'I've got this' way, and give the thumbs-up. That seems to do the trick. But it shouldn't be necessary. 

Food again. It's all over. 

Corona-yam-cha-1 Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

Yesterday I didn't post anything. Why? Too depressed. After dreaming about Chinese food and Chinese supermarkets (Supermercado Asia in Carre Uetam to be exact), thinking, nay, fever dreaming about how I could wangle the curfew by sneaking over there at 4am, hiding out in a nearby skip or recycling bin for plastics and metal until opening time, dash in, grab as much as I could carry and take a taxi home - or maybe just take a taxi there and back - I finally had a brilliant idea: I could call them! Of course they would deliver when lives were at risk. 

Corona-Yam-cha-3 Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

Of course! Except: They are closed. Or "resting" as the owner called it. Nooooooo! The Chinese supermarket is essential to, well, life itself! That's it, I'm officially pissed off with the whole curfew. 

Yam cha means "Drink tea" but it's really all about food: Chinese tapas if you like. It's a southern Chinese thing that is spreading all over the country and world and rightly so. Oh, when all this is over, I will, etc. On a positive note, I have stopped yearning for my lost and misspent youth. Now I yearn for my lost and misspent February this year! Oh how we just went to restaurants and bars without a care in the world, sitting there as close or far apart as we liked; talking even! Remember February? No, me neither...

Corona-yam-cha-2 Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's







Tips for living in genteel poverty 3

Corona-gaff-morning-light Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's

My gaff (house) is as beautiful as can be, I think, but there's no denying that it is high maintenance. Not only is its temperature normally set on 'English boarding school January 1902', it's also like Pigpen in the cartoon Peanuts - it can just stand there quietly minding its own business and WHOOSH! Dirt and dust just attach themselves to it, seemingly effortlessly. Having a super sheddy dog (sheddy means sheds a lot) doesn't exactly help. No vacuum cleaner can beat a pillowcase full of ginga hairs every bloody day. 

But! The electric internet comes to the rescue as usual. It was as if it could look into my head (it can) when it started putting ads on Facebook for the Ionic Brush. I ordered one and: It works!

Corona-Ionic-brush Pen & Wok Blog - - Cecilie's


1. It picks up all dog hairs and other small objects. The photo shows a small part of the daily haul.

2. Unlike with a vacuum cleaner, with the brush I can more easily collect flammable materials and put them in empty Nespresso sleeves to make fire starters

3. Sweeping the floors is good exercise

4. I save on electricity

Talking of saving money, when all this is over, I will dedicate a whole week to having two meals and several drinks every day in my neighbourhood cafés, restaurants and bars. I'm putting some of the money I save aside each day for this purpose. The rest is for the apocalypse, which won't be for another couple of months.