My sister, brother-in-law and niece visited us for five days. I took the whole time off, and while it was cramped, given the size of our apartment, it was nice too. It was the first time my sis was meeting Mimi and it was great watching her with the kids. She is such a kiddie person. Down in the playroom, random kids were joining the game she got going.

My niece is a loner but she did play with Benji quite a bit. Both he and Mimi adored her. Mimi was fascinated by Sisi’s hair which is curlier than Mimi’s own and she kept touching it to Sisi’s annoyance. It’s interesting, I’ve never encountered a kid who I didn’t think could do with a sibling, but Sisi seems to be perfectly comfortable without.

Sisi and I bonded when I left my own kids at home and went out for dinner with just their family. She is clearly more comfortable around adults than kids. I felt bad about leaving my kids back but I’m glad we got to get to spend quality time, to the extent that she wanted me to sleep with her.

My sis and I have entirely opposite parenting styles. She is strict, I am laissez-faire. Fortunately, we restrict these styles to our own children. Well, she’s better at it than me. I am laissez-faire with Sisi too.

We were all supposed to spend a couple of days in Disneyland but the weather killed it for us. Looking out at the glorious sunshine the day they left, I just wanted to scream. We decided to cancel Disney because of the weather and I’m still a little regretful that we didn’t just risk it and make do.

Because on Monday we went to Ocean Park and all of us, adults and kids, had a blast. Just to give you an example, the very first thing we visited was the panda enclosure. Right at the entrance was a tank with a small crocodile (I just googled alligator/crocodile and learnt something). I was pushing Mimi in the pram, and I pretty much abandoned her in the middle of the room and went, “ooh alligator” while a confused Mimi waited until the others caught up and rescued her. I then proceeded to say “in a while crocodile” randomly to the kids.

And of course, I was thrilled by the pandas, even though one was sleeping and the other one sat with its back to us munching bamboo. I thought the munching was pretty impressive, this being one of the key aspects of panda life. Then again, I actually used to tune into a channel that aired live footage of these exact two pandas and found it quite a zen, if not stimulating, experience.

We quite stupidly didn’t plan our visit so we ended up in the part of the park that has absolutely no rides suitable for kids but seeing the penguins made up for it. And the cable car ride, as ever, was a hit with everyone. Also the carousel which some of us went on twice. Ahem. What do I say, the kids wanted to? I deny rushing to get my butt on a giant seahorse.

If that was the high point of the five days, the art fair was the low. I had been negotiating for some time with a gallery in Delhi for a painting, and was thrilled when I was informed they would be coming to Hong Kong for the art fair which meant I could have a look at the painting before finalising. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before the fair, they wrote to me saying that someone else had bought it. I decided to go to the fair with V anyway and was pretty determined to buy something. Only it appeared that all the galleries had brought their largest and most expensive works, and nothing I liked was within budget. And I suspect the prices were jacked up in honour of the fair rents. I had good experiences at most of the galleries I visited, which were unfortunately killed by the last one where I encountered an impatient and rude lady.

Although I struggled to hold onto all the nice and patient people who had explained stuff to me, I was pretty demoralised. It also showed up the ugly side of the art world to me. The fetishisation of objects and the exclusivity, and underlying it all the way money, or the appearance of having it, talks. I decided to opt out of the art quest and focus on the simple things in life , but then a couple of days later I was back to reading articles about art, thanks to the news in Hong Kong covering more than the usual amount due to the fair.

But for a couple of days in between, I did feel that I need to come back down to earth. I contrasted the sophistication of the art world to the simplicity of my sister’s life. My sister is one of the most down-to-earth people I know. Actually, I am the most frou frou and complicated person in my family. My reaching for the good life can tip over in a not good way. Watching my sister who is focussed on the everyday is like a lesson in being grounded. I needed that lesson.

And on siblings, this.

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