Kung Hei Fat Choy
Zhu Ni Xinnian Kuai Le
Happy New Year (of the pig)
Wow. What a day. It’s late, but I want to remember some things. I think this is going to come out a little like those ‘in my holidays’ first day back at school essays, for which I apologise in advance. But as I said, it’s late and I’ve had a very busy day.
Running round Kowloon Park early this morning, and enjoying it! The Pool is shut for New Year, 3 days, and I was not looking forward to no early morning swims. But perhaps it was a good thing because I ran instead and at the end bumped into a Tai Chi master from Sydney. I’d been meaning to do tai chi in the park, but somehow never quite managed it. I suppose our Vietnam sojourn and finding my birth family and early morning swims got in the way. But today I had some expert tuition from Chi and realised how powerful and at the same time calming it is, just the 15 minute Qi Gong type warm up. I am definitely going to add this into my exercise mix. Technical hitch. Video on separate blog post
I remember. Meeting Angel. Wishing I had kept up with my Mandarin, when I met Angel on the MTR, coming home from my eldest sister’s home in Tai Po. There’s nothing like a cute and very bright bilingual 5 year old to make you feel very stupid. Dinosaurs, Frozen (as in the children’s film), the science of condensation……Watch this and enjoy!
Video on separate blog post Technical hitch. Apologies
I remember. When I was about 8, my Dad made me a pair of stilts. Not the baked bean can and string affairs, but the sturdiest wooden ones whose tips you put behind your shoulders. I remember I got quite proficient and could go up and down the steps in the back garden. I was wishing I’d kept them when I went to join the tightly packed throng of the Cathay New Year Parade around the streets of Tsim Tsa Tsui. I don’t often lament being short, and I must be average height here (all my HK H&M clothes fit perfectly), but somehow I got squished behind the tallest and widest Chinese man in christendom. And he had a huge camera with the longest lens that when he wasn’t filming he held at an angle that completely blocked my view. The only upside was I could see some of the parade in the large screen on his camera. Still, it wasn’t quite the vantage point I had planned. ‘Why didn’t you just move?’ I can hear you ask. But honestly, once I was squished in, it was literally like Chinese sardines. No going forwards, backwards or sideways until the Parade was over. Not an experience for the faint hearted or those who suffer from claustrophobia. I think next time I may watch on a large screen, or book an actual seat. Next time, did I say next time? Freudian slip?
I spent the best part of the day, and it was the best part, with my family. My eldest sister lives in a tiny flat, the one where my Mother lived. I love being in the space. Seeing the tiny bed she slept on. My eldest brother also lived there for a while, and my nephew too. I’ve never worried about entertaining from a small space and maybe it’s a Chinese thing.
When I arrived, some of the family were seated around the table, some squeezed in the tiny kitchen, some sitting on small stools. My sisters took turns to prepare and bring out food. There was my youngest sister and her husband and one daughter, my eldest sister and her son, his wife and their daughter, my second eldest sister and my eldest brother joined us a bit later. More new family to meet and names to remember. Straight away I was given tea and soup and rice and tofu. Sometimes I was eating alone, and sometimes other family members joined in as other dishes were placed on the table. When my eldest brother arrived, his food was laid before him as mine had been. Prosecco was served in mugs and the meal concluded with a large chocolate cake, the only item that was eaten by everyone together. I loved the relaxed feel of this way of dining. I’m not sure that this is how it’s done in all homes, but it seemed to work for my family, both the guests and the hosts, nobody getting heated about having to get all the food out at exactly the right time.
I remember. After lunch some of us caught the bus to Lam Tsuen to the very traditional and popular Wishing Tree Celebration. Fishermen used to worship a tree in Tai Wo, asking the Gods to keep them safe and give them big trawls. After some TV coverage a few decades back, it became a popular New Year’s pilgrimage for many HKers. My brother tells me the story on our bus journey of how it caught fire (I think that’s what he meant) and the HK government repaired it with concrete, nearly killing it. So now there’s a replica plastic tree. You buy an orange and a tag, this year in the shape of a pig, write a wish, and hurl it into the tree’s branches, where it has to stay for any chance of the wish coming true. In my case it took several hurls, and an over enthusiastic and badly aimed throw nearly knocks out a bystander when it fails to lodge in the branches. But eventually I manage to make it stay. It felt greedy to ask for anything more, after my huge gift of the past week. My new instant jackpot family, who have welcomed me into their hearts in a way I could never have imagined. Strange and at the same time lovely to think that I will leave them here in just over a week, to return to my other small and wonderful family back home. Perhaps one day I will be able to bring both families together at the Wishing Tree.
I remember I had a wobbly day the other day, feeling very emotional and somewhat lacking in my ability to understand what is expected as a younger sister, and struggling with the language barrier. But as the days go on and I relax, I am feeling happy and confident. A bit like with all the new things I’ve done these past 3 months. Sometimes I expect so much of myself, to be able to get to grips with so much new stuff rapidly and with no hitches. Is this possible at 58? Perhaps if I was 5 again like Angel…….. I’d be fluent in Cantonese in a year, and be able to identify all the different dinosaurs in Hong Kong. Oh, and she knew about volcanoes and eruption and lava. Perhaps I will retract today’s wish that I hurled into the branches of the Lam Tsuen tree, and just wish to be 5 again.