It’s been quite a while since I last updated my blog, and we’re now already two months into 2020 and one month into the Year of the Rat (kung hei fat choy!). How time flies! Today is the second day of February on the Chinese lunar calendar—namely, the dragon-raising-its-head festival (aka Longtaitou 龍擡頭)—and we made dumplings at home. People often joke that we northerners eat dumplings for every traditional festival 😂, but I personally love both dumplings and “soup balls” (tangyuan 湯圓).

dumplings and soup balls
In China, northerners eat dumplings (picture source: during the Spring Festival season whereas southerners eat soup balls (picture source:

Normally I would get a haircut on this day as well, which is an auspicious tradition associated with the festival. But this year I haven’t been able to do that due to the coronavirus outbreak and the concomitant quarantine measures. I’ve stayed home for four months till now—first due to my dental surgeries and then due to the quarantine lockdown—and don’t know when I’ll be able to leave for (paid) work. I can’t complain, though, because at least my family is in a safe place and we have enough food supplies.

The coronavirus outbreak happened before I could complete my dental treatment, which has now been suspended because the department of stomatology at my local hospital has stopped receiving patients. That said, I feel very lucky that I had decided to get my wisdom teeth extracted before the epidemic. My friend L., who planned to go through the same operation during the Chinese New Year vacation, got turned away by the hospital because dental surgeries are considered high-risk at the moment. I also feel lucky that the dentists have been kind and gentle to me this time (I’ve had awful dentistry experiences before).

It hasn’t been terribly cold in my hometown this winter, with only a few snowing days. Global warming has really done its job. Today it started raining after a week’s nice weather, which came as no surprise because it’s the dragon-raising-its-head day after all. The “dragon” here isn’t just any dragon but specifically refers to the Dragon Kings (aka Longwang 龍王), who are in charge of the oceans and the weather in Chinese mythology (see also this entry on Mythopedia).

a painting of the four dragon kings in Chinese mythology
the four Dragon Kings in Chinese mythology (picture source:

As I mentioned on Twitter, a large part of my time since January has been occupied by my little cousin, who’s applying to graduate school this year and requested my tutoring in IELTS. He’s not the most diligent or docile kid in the world, so I basically haven’t been able to do anything else. However, he just found out a week ago that all upcoming IELTS tests had been canceled due to the epidemic. He had to make a new reservation that is three months away, and thanks to the rescheduling I can now have a moment to breathe (and update my blog).

The coronavirus outbreak is certainly changing things—things I can’t yet describe but am subconsciously aware of. It reminds me of the first sentence in Love in the Time of Cholera: “It was inevitable.” The theme of that story is love; what’s the theme of this story we are witnessing?

On this special day, I pray to the Dragon Kings for health for all.

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