Category Archives: New Life
Several times a week I have to go through the ‘border’ control didviding the haves and have nots; in my case it is only a matter of a few hundred yards. I have to produce my identity card and the details are duely noted. I have to state which residence I am visiting and their name and this is checked against the data stored on the computer. But the guards aren’t armed and not stationed at Lo Wo or Shenzhen. Even they don’t ask you where you are going.
This sentry is stationed at the gateway to prosperity, mansions and posh cars, namely my neighbouring gated community. Every time I crossed that line and pass the interrogation I am struck by the instant difference between my habitat and theirs. It really is us and them.
The streets are immaculate, yet there are sweepers virtually on every corner brushing the odd leave. Not much of a sense of job satisfaction, I shouldn’t think. I joked with one that she should come to my village, lots of rubbish there, her services would be highly appreciated. She laughed and thought it was a joke. I guess with the obsene management fees charged they’ll have to at least keep the streets clean.
The same with wealth, I thought. Those in need don’t get any extra yet the filthy rich get wealthier and wealthier.
Behind the hallowed gates everyone is cleaning. Well not eveyone, just the Filipino and Indonesian maids and the chauffeurs. Some are washing the cars, others are watering the plants. Saving water and recycling don’t seem to be an issue. Almost tempted to rush back to my hovel, get a bucket and collect the wasted water.
Yes it would be nice to live somewhere clean, devoid of litter, dog poo, ignorant neighbours and roaming dogs who won’t let your repair man in. Probably lovely to live in those huge houses and being waited hand and foot. No mundane household chores to roughen your hands or ruffle your hair. The outdoor swimming pool where you can have a quick dip in the unforgiving humid sun is particularly tempting. And of course the posh car you can parade round in denoting status, all the better if you are chauffeured around. I note that the proud owners always seem smug when they drive by staring at me trudging up the hill laden with rucksack or even a trolley at times. They must think I am the hired help and I am, we just perform different roles and I don’t get the full board.
In spite of all that I don’t find myself plagued with envy, wishing to trade places. I’d rather live with the ‘commom’ people and experience what it is like for the vast majority. Similarly I’d rather be on the noisy ward than secluded in a private room.
I guess the divide isn’t that invisible.
Still I believe in Love
in her power to heal
kiss better the gaping
wound savaged by barbed
wire twisted knife deep into
the core of my being i never
knew a heart could break
literally but i felt it crack
when you would not look
me in the eye
Still I do not regret our Love
I hold onto the good
No one can take the memories
Our yesterdays shared history
No not even you
Nor the ending
Or your I don’t care fuck
Still I believe in Love
Tasted delicious euphoria deep deep sorrow
surrounded friends family weary body soul dragging
scaled Mt. Optimism all I wanna is to die blessed relief
beautiful smiling bride bitter divorcee
essential part of happy family thrown out with the trash recycling not required
jonathon livingston seagull soaring free crashed spectacularly wing lopsided grounded
licking wound gazing longingly up
will she ever fly again
scale the heights of delight
look down upon
world of goodness
restore faith in humanity
just a blip unlucky
gonna be ok kid
One day you’re gonna fly high high above the clouds
leave the sorrow behind
I’ve had to learn to be independent having been single five years. Imagine my surprise when Topless, my neighbour and proud owner of the roaming security dogs insisted on taking me shopping on his motorbike. Thus saving me a sweaty five minutes’ walk to the bus stop and $5.5. There he wouldn’t even let me pay a cent and showed me the ropes; where to buy what at the best value. He would make someone an excellent ‘wife’! Then he dropped me off outside one of my pupil’s and zoomed off with the shopping home.
Gobsmacked. What’s his game? Hidden agenda? Divorce tends to make us cynical. Apart from close family and friends I don’t expect anything. As long as strangers aren’t nasty or rude I am happy. If they show me the minutest bit of kindness I cry. But this is registering on the richter scale.
So far he has been very honourable and gentlemanly. No trying to pounce on me or grab my hand. Maybe he just wants to be a friend to a middle aged divorcee who’s been through a rough time. It could be seeing the bedsheets posing as curtains. Or the fan off despite the heat wave? Offering to teach his girlfriend’s son for peanuts, a mere $50, less than half the going rate? Any or all of the above?
I am poor but proud. I want no pity. But I’ll happily accept the hand of friendship and practical help. Before this, he had bumped into me struggling with my shopping and immediately offer to carry it up for me. Another time, home from an overnight shift at the container terminal in Kwai Chung he spotted my mattress airing on the balcony and asked if I had anything else heavy that needed shifting. Wow wow and wow.
It was then he asked when I was going shopping. When I said I didn’t need any he ignored me and said I’ll come get you at 9am tomorrow after a quick shower. I thought oh he’s just saying that and forgot about it. Well, I’ll be damn, I was woken up by my mobile going off at exactly, yep, you guessed it, 9. Cursing him under my breath, I had to rush round getting ready. Still brushing my teeth he was already waiting outside, complaining I was taking too long. He saw the rubbish at the door and marched out with it to the main road and onto his motorbike. I’ve never had to move so fast, especially in the scorching heat and humidity. Being the silent mysterious type he handed me a pink helmet and pointed down the road, meaning go and wait there.
I didn’t realise I had missed being a pillion. Ex is a Harley worshipper. The wind in your hair and all that jazz is particularly welcome in the oppressive heat. And Topless turned out to be a perfectly safe and experienced rider so I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. We’ll have to go on a longer ride next time somewhere scenic.
Later I saw him on his way out having spruced himself up with a heavy rucksack. It was his day off and he wouldn’t be back till next morning. Mmm interesting. Obviously a rendevous with some woman. This suits me fine. Platonic friendship in the form of chauffeur, shopping carrier, handyman is just what the doctor ordered.
Someone must be looking out for me up there.
to my 21 year old self
You are ok. Never doubt that.
It’ them not you.
Stop beating yourself up.
Let yourself off the hook.
So you screwed up, who hasn’t?
You are your own best friend, with you from beginning to end.
Trust your instinct, nobody knows you better than yourself.
Don’t overthink. Maybe it is as simple as that.
Dare to dream.
If there’s nobody to love you, love yourself.
Stick up for yourself even against the tide.
Don’t expect anyone to be the solution to all your problems.
Don’t trust anybody 100%.
Don’t give all of yourself, save a little for you.
Keep some things private, just for you.
Don’t give your fragile heart away too easily.
Don’t drop your glasses moment you fall in love.
Invest in a magnifying glass before loving again.
Lick your wounds, hibernate, sulk but don’t take too long.
It could get a lot worse so thank your lucky stars.
Hitting rock bottom is good news because the only way is up.
The smart horse never eats the same grass twice.
Under no circumstances lose your identity to your lover.
Keep a nestegg however small and an essential ‘being dumped’ survival kit.
Sure way for your relationship to fail is to put your love on a pedastal.
Don’t change the core you for anybody, only adjust minor faults.
If s/he loves you they’ll find time to see you.
Keep your dignity, get the message if s/he doesn’t respond.
Desperation is not a good look.
Taking care of your own needs is not ‘selfish’ but essential.
Don’t love too much.
The needle can’t be sharp both ends.
Don’t trust till the person has proven himself worthy.
Not everybody is your friend.
Don’t give up too easily.
Never get bitter; still good people out there, just have to meet them.
People and not wads of paper money are your richest resource.
Love really does conquer all; more potent than hate.
Communicate with your family while you still can.
Most parents though annoying do have your best interests at heart.
Wisdom is gained through pain.
There are no happy poets.
Nothing is ever totally black and white. Truth lies somewhere in those murky
Be compassionate, that could be you.
Take the Hippocratic oath: do no harm.
Widen your circle of care; get rid of your tunnel vision.
Can’t take your money with you so use it now for good.
Putting a smile on a sad person’s face is priceless.
Don’t rush around and miss the main show, your life.
Hold onto your sense of humour, only thing left when you lose everything.
for me on this my 21st wedding anniversary
(thanks go to Andrew Urquhart, fellow blogger for suggesting the title)
feeling kinda blue wanna
drown in the ocean of forgetfulness
resolutely slam that door full
speed ahead to infinity and
how come you can wave the
‘past’ goodbye with such
abandon glee no trace of
sadness sprinting to embrace
Did it mean nothing to you
marriage me us our
love i was there for the
duration good bad ugly
Different kinda pain
sixth year alone cross your
mind that summer’s day the
eighth of eighth month
This time tears all
cried out no searing paralysing
jab just dull lingering ache
hunkers down to fight another
I will remember our happy
union till last breath not
relegate to just another
day for it meant the world to
Different kinda pain
Much to my horror it slowly dawned on me how the locals and in particular the boss and staff of my local saw me. Local as in where I eat and not the pub. They don’t exist here, not in the form we think of as pubs back home. Bars, yes, millions on HK Island, the financial and business hub, catering for ex-pats and those on business.
I am discovering being a ‘banana’ has its disavantages. Due to the fact I look Chinese on the outside people expect me to dress and behave in a certain way. In spite of how modern and technologically savvy the city is, it is still a very tradiitonal society and have very definite views on what is acceptable. Any deviation is not appreciated as it threatens the very foundation on which their lives are built, namely the paramount importance of the family and the roles played. Dad’s main responsibility is to provide for the family. Mums, more increasingly as the standard of living is shooting up by the minute has to work but look after the kids and the home. If they are at least lowe middle class then both will work full time and the Filipino Maid will carry out Mum’s household duties and provide childcare. The kids in return have to work their socks off not only at school but attending tutorial centres after home time and weekends. Parents, however impoverished, would scrap and save to pay the fees as their kid must not fall behind. The intention is good, to ensure the child has an easier and better life but the pressure is unrelenting and psychologically damaging. Seeing children ‘play’ is a rare sight, even pre-schoolers, how sad. Whole generations are deprived of their carefree childhood, already learning about pressure, stress, the need to achieve, to be tested and then found wanting. Only one pupil in each class can be no.1 academically.
Every child is in training to be Super Man or Wonder Woman. Not only do they have to be smartypants but olympic athletes/swimmers/dancers/concert pianists and van goghs. What a lot of expectations on such tiny shoulders. No wonder child/teenager suicide is up.
Anyway back to me. I enjoy quenching my thirst under the burning sun with a beer. No big deal right? Not even if you are a middle aged woman on her own and having food with it, not drinking on an empty stomach so you can get drunk easily. Wrong, wrong, wrong. One damn waiter was spreading the rumour I was an alchoholic. One pint? Really? It would take a lot more than that to get me dancing on the table. My preferred posion, namely dry white wine is too dear, so no chance of getting intoxicated. It is taboo, not the done thing. Women of a certain age are supposed to be happily married and devoted to taking care of their family. What the hell is this woman doing drinking beer while she should be home slaving over a hot stove, so that dinner is ready on the table when hubby comes home from a hard day’s work?
Ok fine, I’ll drink at those bars in Central. Surely there nobody will bat an eyelid. I mean that’s what those places are for, for you to drink and chill, friends or no friends. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. A woman lurking in those places must be looking for ‘business’. You get my drift. Even if there are two ‘friends’ chatting, it is just a ploy, they are undercover prostitutes waiting to be picked up.
Damn it, that means I can’t drink anywhere public. Just at home facing the four walls talking to myself. No good trying to convince them. Nobody actually comes out with it but looks from other customers and the manager hinting you ought to order some healthy alternative like horlicks drive the message through, loud and clear.
That’s not all. The suspicion I am a woman of ill repute is confirmed by the way I dress. I am apparently not supposed to be parading around in string vest tops and shorts, letting it all hang out. What is casual summer gear to you and me has become uniform for ladies of the night selling their wares. I only found this out when it was a cool evening for a change, after heavy rainfall and I was in a blue blouse with long sleeves and a pair of thin trousers and also ostensibly to protect myself from being eaten alive. The boss during a lull came to congratulate me on my choice of attire. Nodding approvingly informing me, yes, this outfit is suitable for teaching in gated communities, like the one near me. I have just started teaching a 5 year old girl there. One must dress as a teacher, a professional, that way you gain respect and will be taken seriously. Our body is only for ourselves, not for any Tom, Dick or Harry to gawk at, when you bend down and unwittingly show your boobs. You are not those ‘loose’ women, you are highly educated and you must present that image.
OK. I smile and nod as I know she means well. She has taken it upon herself to be my life coach and guru on what not to do in HK to keep your reputation. Image is all. It doesn’t matter if you are not a secret alccie tart; if you dress and behave like one then you are. If they think you are, then you are. The first impression sticks, there is no shifting their perception.
I could do with Max Clifford here for some PR advice. It’s so ridiculous I should laugh it off but I hate to be judged. What to me is normal behaviour on any other continent is deemed dodgy here. I resolve to cover myself from head to toe and order horlicks at the next visit. Choose the healthiest dish on the menu and not speak until spoken to and in a demure way. I wonder if they’ll sussed out it is an act worthy of an oscar nomination or be overjoyed I have finally seen the light, become one of them, conformed, towed the line.
It must be so hard being ‘different’ in Hong Kong, if you are gay, disabled, have learning difficulty, want to be an individual, live your own life, or reject the ideal of marriage and family as the ultimate goal of human existence and the secret to happiness. Simply to be a rebel. It would take a courageous and determined person to be a Jonathon Livingston Seagull in this schizophrenic modern but upholding values of the dark ages corner of the world.
If the truth be told, I have no figure to show off, it is purely for practical reasons. It is so hot and humid sometimes I would go around naked if it wasn’t illegal and go as far as peel my skin back. My boobs aren’t that big, nothing to write home about, no legs going up to my armpits or a face that would turn heads. I don’t dress in such a provocative way that causes traffic accidents.
So you see looking Chinese but being a westerner inside is like walking the wire. Who will catch me when I fall?
Every time i say goodbye i die a little
same ritual we embrace on platform 3b
whisper words of love you embark
with your bags graphics folder
to where i am not
to your life and
my heart breaks a little
yet i smile wave
for i don’t want to make it harder baby
so i put on my brave mum face
and i make the long way home
with less bounce back to my room
in a shared house wondering why
you and i have to always say goodbye cos
every time i die a little
for my sister who never gave up on me
I’ve come to a momentous decision thanks to my best friend, Hazy Hay. Like the divorce courts in UK I am adopting the ‘no blame’ policy. relinquishing all anger, bitterness, resentment, sadness, disappointment, and feeling of loss. Why this dramatic change of heart? Well I’m not the Iate Baroness Thatcher; this lady is very much for the turning and been working hard at it. The wise Dalai Lama is right: it is foolish to make yourself ill from anger and be carted off to hospital while the ‘culprit’ is blissfully unaware.
If the truth be told my life is full of good things and there are more to come. You see I’ve been waiting patiently in line outside Santa’s Grotto and finally it’s my turn. Good things happen to good people, that is as it should be. Here’s a short list of the good stuff in my life: beautiful loving daughter, mum, dad, sisters who love me to bits and spoil me the baby of the family, good reliable friends, caring acquaintances here with great potential to become friends, spacious, quiet home all to myself, free security from village dogs, fresh delicious food, all that I need and more, facials and massage, freedom of speech, movement, beliefs, not feeling an outsider, compassion from strangers, relative good health, able to use all the senses, all limbs intact and functioning albeit protesting with aches and pains …