It seems a number of people, including my husband (though he cannot be counted on because he suffers from amnesia of the convenient kind), were under the impression that I didn’t immediately like Hong Kong and had problems adjusting in the beginning.
So, I went back to the source of all information about myself – my blog – and tried to dig up posts from this period. (This resulted in quite an interesting quest for said posts on old blog, which was on the verge of being shut down by MSN, and a scramble to save content of old posts.)
It turns out I never actually said I had problems adjusting. Or disliked Hong Kong. However, I never explicitly said I loved it either.
Instead, the posts from the initial period of my time in HK can be divided into two categories:
a) Posts about my very first job in a finance magazine
b) Posts about my excursions to places in and around HK
The latter tend to be my amused observations on life in HK. They do not gush with praise and they might have a slightly satirical tone, but they weren’t intended to be negative.
The posts about my job were definitely in the satirical mode, and as time went by, it was quite clear that my job was a source of stress. In fact, these posts dominated the blog and were what most people enjoyed reading also because they were very Devil Wears Prada meets Confessions of a Shopaholic (if I might say so myself). Enjoyable as they were, I guess these posts gave the impression that I wasn’t coping well with life in a new city.
The fact is that even though working in a finance magazine was never the ideal fit and the stress of being in charge of an entire magazine took its toll, I wouldn’t exchange that early experience. I saw a very glamorous side of Hong Kong, because the job involved cocktails with senior bankers in the best hotels on a regular basis. I also made a number of very good friends in that magazine, and had many crazy nights out during that period.
It was only after my first trip back home eight months later that homesickness gripped me. And then began the constant comparisons to Bombay that have become an intermittent staple of this blog.
I guess while I never explicitly said I disliked HK, I never said I loved it either. I think I assumed it was obvious.
After my very first trip to HK, I drew shock and ire from a cousin and friend in New York, which I visited right after, when I proclaimed that I liked HK better than NY. For them, it was nothing short of sacrilege. In retrospect, very objectively, I guess NY sweeps the city stakes but, for me, HK still remains numero uno.
I guess having made that startling declaration to a few people and written a few enthusiastic emails about HK to a few more people, I assumed my love for HK was clear and enough had been said. Moreover, I guess I thought the awesome of HK was obvious, did it really have to be pointed out? Was it possible for a city-lover to actually dislike HK?
But clearly people did misunderstand. And so I’m considering another possibility – that I do not state the positive, or do not stress it, because I assume it’s obvious.
Maybe, in future, I should preface all my comments with some positive remarks and reiterate them at regular intervals.
Also, I tend to have a critical eye, pointing out things that I find amusing or strange, and this is not necessarily a value-judgement. (For example, when I say people in HK are consumerist, I don’t mean this as a negative. It’s just a statement of fact.). I wonder if the positive things I do say get swallowed up in the critical comments giving the whole thing a negative tenor?
So now I am going to make a conscious effort to say two positive things before every comment. Kind of like the lay man’s versions of “that’s a very good question” or “that’s a very interesting suggestion”. Does that count as choosing one’s thoughts?
It is also possible though that instead of me being the “negative” one, I do make positive statements but people choose to focus on the negative ones because they are more entertataining. Hmph.