Friday, October 17, 2014

so long and farewell

Two of my frequently visited Happy Valley restaurants are closing according to neighborhood sources who are in the know. St. Germaine is closing its doors after several years of operation. I occasionally ate there and more often visited for a drink or three when I fancied something a bit more upscale than the local pub. They seemed to do a brisk business on race nights and when French sports were being televised. I awoke from time to time to the sounds of La Marseillaise being bellowed from triumphant patrons. It was the trade off for choosing to live close to all of the amenities. If you want to live in the center of everything, expect that excitement will occur from time to time (nudge, nudge, horrible man who lives above the Happy Valley Bar & Grill and keeps calling the police on customers' children playing in the open space).

The Chapel is also closing after decades in this neighborhood. SB recalls gathering there twenty years ago after attending the funeral of a friend who died much too young. It had been the friend's favorite drinking hole. I know several people who religiously attended the Chapel's quiz nights for years. I fear for their spouses who may face some grueling months ahead, playing Trivial Pursuit and searching for a replacement quiz night to save their marriages. Yes, the Chapel served a higher purpose and will be greatly mourned.

At least the real estate office boom seems to be over. Those were dark years when every street in the valley seemed to feature wall to wall real estate offices. Unfortunately nothing seems to be slowing the emergence of wall to wall banks. While we HK residents have great fondness for money, it is inedible and does not provide satisfaction at mealtimes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

it's been a rough week

It's been a rough week for me - deadlines, revisions, pitchfork waving - but this week was even rougher for one social worker and the Hong Kong Police Force.

Monday, October 13, 2014


On an island with millions of people crammed along flat areas, we are bound to encounter land use and sharing issues. I join thousands of fellow residents who jostle along the sidewalks on the way into the office in the morning. Almost every day I see someone cutting into the bus queue or shoving to be the first person to board the tram. I've had colleagues close the elevator doors on me as I have entered the lift car. After six years in the HK rat race I can't be bothered to care most of the time.

On several mornings I wake up early to have a quick exercise session at the local sports ground. My routine hardly ever changes: I run a lap around the grounds and then do some calisthenics. There are far fewer runners in the morning than in the evening and those annoying people who can't stand being passed don't seem to wake up early so I don't have to be stuck trying to run around someone for 100 meters while dodging other runners going in the opposite direction. 

Lately I have encountered a new problem: exercise classes. Most of the outdoor fitness classes choose to operate in areas where they can peacefully coexist. the Tai Chi groups practice in the paved gathering area near the children's playground and in the hockey pitch while several circuits groups take up corners at the rugby and football pitches. Unfortunately a new exercise group has cropped up at the calisthenics area. This is annoying. The area isn't particularly large so fifteen people very easily overwhelm it. They often attach TRX suspension equipment on the bars and benches so that sharing is impossible. The trainers used to wait impatiently while I did my exercises. Then they began setting up as I was exercising, slowly cutting down on the area that I could use. Now they arrive before I do and cover the entire area with their gear. I am seriously considering helping myself and using their equipment.

I don't want to complain to the recreation ground management but I'm not sure what other options I have. These trainers have made it clear by their actions that they intend to take over the calisthenic area for their income generating purposes and to the exclusion of others. I just don't want all of the other groups that don't create friction to be booted out because I complained about one bad group. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

cancel everything

SB and I had nice plans for the long holiday but we've canceled them. There are more important matters to attend to, such as supporting our friends. We discussed what we felt comfortable doing. During the protest marches earlier in the year we were careful to be observers and not join the marches because we wanted it to be clear that these protests were by Hong Kong citizens. We were able to show our support by standing at the sidelines and bearing witness.

This time we are joining our friends to support them. SB and others have taken turns sitting with and delivering  nourishment to several friends. The weather is not ideal, ranging from sweltering heat to thunderstorms. A little moral support goes a long way.

I try not to think of the end and my own pessimism and feelings of futility. I am no longer young and idealistic, which is a sad thing. I wish for that young woman who thought that she could change the world. On the other hand, ten years ago I was advocating for another futile cause and today three of my former teammates are legally wed and raising families. In the words of Chuck Berry, you never can tell.

Monday, September 29, 2014

and it might be ironic

Reporters prevented from entering China to report bad news were stuck waiting for visas in Hong Kong. Bad news was reported.

Does anyone else have a contribution to share regarding the law of unintended consequences in action?

more things that make you go hmmm

After watching public reaction around the world to police forces using tear gas on peaceful protesters, even someone as admittedly politically ignorant as myself can manage to draw an obvious conclusion.

Don't deploy tear gas on peaceful protesters.

But someone even more politically idiotic than me did not arrive at the same conclusion. This person may have said to himself, "But this situation is completely different than what happened in (insert any of the multiple examples of what happened when police tear gassed students), because reasons."

And so the police fired off tear gas at the protesters to rather obvious results. Other people heard about it and became offended. Offended people poured into the city to join the protesters. More police were deployed. More people became offended.

Really, why did anyone think that the results would be any different?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Occupy Central

Unless you are here, it is difficult to imagine what thousands of protesters look like, and we are nowhere near the epicenter. That area has been blocked off for a while. People trying to join the protests were queued up peacefully at side streets, highway crossings, and backed up on the stairs of Admiralty station.

This is one of our less impressive pictures but we didn't want to upload any that showed faces. At this point in the day people started entering the highway in attempts to reach the protest. They want choice. They want the freedoms that were promised.  They want to be heard.