新春快乐！Happy Chinese New Year 🧧🥟❣️
A week ago I was making manti (Turkish dumplings) at a cooking studio in Istanbul alongside other students on the CMES (Center of Middle Eastern Studies) excursion.
Today, after waking up way past noon, I wander into the living room in my PJs and see my family making dumplings. On the dining table are a big bowl with chives and marinated meat, two rolling pins, squares of dough, round dumpling wrappers, and neat rows of dumplings like cute yuanbaos (ingots). Making dumplings from scratch alongside my parents is to feel tradition and love from the fingertips: wrapped and weighed on the palm; balanced between chopsticks and tasted between lips.
Dusting my hands with flour, I start making the wrappers with the rolling pin. With my left hand, I turn the ball of dough in a circular motion. With my right hand, I roll the pin halfway over the dough and then back. Roll, turn, roll, turn…
The last time I celebrated Chinese New Year with my family was 2017. Eating hand-made dumplings fresh out of the pot, drinking green tea and cider, peering at the Spring Festival gala （春晚） playing on the TV in the background, singing songs loudly, snacking on kueh lapis, almond cookies, and pineapple tarts… My heart is full.
As the coronavirus sweeps across China and various parts of the globe, this New Year is fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Amidst the festivity and laughter, I’m praying for those who are on the frontlines, combating this new pandemic, and those who are far from home, unable to see their loved ones. In the past week, the world appeared at times surreally apocalyptic: headlines of rising death tolls, colored maps of the spreading contagion, and news of entire cities sealed under quarantine.
But as we video-call my relatives, everyone’s cheeks are flushed with smiles and champagne, and the mood still buoyant with optimism.
This is the Year of the Rat, the first month of the new decade, a moment of crises and new beginnings. You can quarantine cities, families, and countries; but you can’t quarantine love and the human propensity for hope.
Spring will be here soon. 🌱🍀🌻
Lots of love,