It was 21 degrees and clear blue skies today. I was walking to Kowloon Park, a five minute walk from the hostel, to a swim, where people are beginning to recognise me and say hello.
It was so sunny I stopped before I got to the pool, and had a little lie down to sunbathe in the park, thinking about how I was beginning to feel less like a tourist, more like a local. The other day I helped a lady on the MTR. She was struggling to work out how to get to Kowloon Tong, peering at the maps and signs through a range of different spectacles, none of which seemed to help her. So I told her to stick with me (yes, really) as I was going in that direction. We got there without a hitch and she thanked me in Cantonese.
I think of being a tourist as being like the dependent stage of the life cycle. I’ve definitely progressed from here to more independence. But I’m also moving on to interdependency where I am now playing my part in contributing to others. Tonight I was invited to a conference around the seven core issues of adoption, and I offered a positive psychology take on the model, that some adoptive parents said they found reassuring. (Odd but sort of nice to be talking as an ‘older’ adoptee, a professional, a parent, a current root tracer, a grandparent even).
But whilst I might kid myself I’m a local, it’s blatantly obvious that I’m not. Even on a day that felt like a summers day to me, everyone, and I mean everyone, apart from Westerners, is rugged up. Winter coats, jumpers, scarves, boots and hats. Not a bare arm in sight, except for yours truly in her shorts and t shirt.
And Locals know that lying down in the park is NOT permitted. I do now, as a park guard came and woke me up , told me off, and made me sit up.
But I’m content with this state of play for the moment, a foot in both camps. And wondering how much Cantonese I could learn in 4 weeks. And happy to be getting on with my root tracing too, which I’ll write more about later.
Everyone is getting ready for Chinese New Year and there’s a definite frisson (is this the right word?) everywhere you go. Apparently a lot of things close down, including the transport system and many small businesses and shops. I definitely need to get local insider information on how all this does, or doesn’t work and when the closures begin and end, as I could find myself being a very hungry tourist for a week or two!