Instead I watched its lockdown on YouTube: a concrete network of mammoth streets, eerily empty, with no sign of life. When I think of her in Chengdu, instead of picturing her in the nondescript block of flats where she lives, I see us going for walks along the alleys outside. I love those that are grown only on the Chengdu plane and have flavours I can’t taste anywhere else. The vendors also sell spring blossoms in straw-tied twigs, usually still with traces of the gentle rain in the night. These alley-ways have been immortalised in classic poetry and survived modern times, and they are what the real Chengdu is for me.