How the other half live
I have the privilege of living right next to a very posh ‘gated’ community full of ex-pats and well-to-do locals. There is no physical gate but security guards checking cars going in and even pedestrian traffic. However I can enjoy their facilities such as landscaped gardens, supermarket, cashpoint machine, bakery and waiting taxis.
The supermarket is convenient for rainy lazy days and saves lugging heavy bottles and cans around. The downside is as it is catering for the luxurious private estate the prices are rather inflated and I laughed when I saw products from Waitrose. Yoghurt and cheese and any imports are extortionate. Anyway I’d much rather eat the fresh local produce. And best of all, I can sneakily push the trolley just short of the guard’s station which means it is only a little further till I make it back.
But that’s where it ends. I am denied access to the much envied private minibus which shuttles residents and their maids mainly from the Phillipines and Indonesia back and forth to Tai Po to buy groceries. It is a door to door service. Whilst, I on the hand have to battle through the heat and humidity and/or heavy rain to the nearest bus stop 5 minutes away. It doesn’t sound too far but trust me that particular combination is a real killer, especially if you are returning laden with shopping bags.
Then there is the country club… Imagine my delight when one day a banner appeared announcing that its membership was now open to non-residents. I just wanted to take advantage of their swimming pool, right on my doorstep. So I boldly went to enquire what the fees might be. I was gobsmacked: lifetime membership would be a cool 5 million HK dollars or an annual fee just 1.5 million. As if that wasn’t enough, in addition there is a monthly fee of $4,200. ‘And just for swimming?’ I ventured to whispered after recovering from the shock. But it was all or nothing. I was reminded that I could enjoy all the facilities: playing golf, tennis, squash, state of the art gyms, aerobics classes, professional swimming coaches, bars, a restaurant and so on and so forth. And even better your spouse, children under 21 become automatic members and you get the all important permit to park your car. I summoned up my best acting skills and said that I would take the brochure away and think about it. Yeah right.
As taxi drivers are familiar with the name of this top end development and not my hamlet, I always tell them to head that way. They always want to take me through the security barrier to drop me off but I tell them to stop in front of the entrance. They assume I am filthy rich, have maids and drive around in posh cars. They couldn’t be more wrong. And because I shop in the local supermarket that I am a resident.
I don’t enlighten them as for once I’d like to indulge in the fantasy of being so wealthy that you don’t have to worry about money. A huge wad doesn’t buy you happiness but it certainly smooths the way and reduces anxiety about the future. And often while perusing the reduced meat in the chiller; by the way nobody else does this as money is not an issue, I dream that one day some multi-millionaire will spot me and find me irrestible and move me into his decadent penthouse. Come on, a girl can dream, especially with my makeover.