1. I led my first tutorial sessions and gave my first ever presentation using Powerpoint today. It was okay. It was a super short presentation, and I’m sure the students can do fancier. However, the students and their reticence will I think be my undoing. They will sit and stare into the distance to avoid saying a word. I was reduced to calling on people which I assume they hate. But I had to kill the time somehow. In the end, let them go 10 minutes early. Undergrad students in India are much more voluble I think. I do feel for teachers here. And I think students here would be happier just sitting in a lecture where they could listen or drift mentally at will.
2. I have been chatting with a couple of mothers at Benji’s school. Both the mothers I struck up a conversation with are much wealthier than I am. Their problems are so first world, I struggle to keep a straight face. Primary among their grumbles is inability to find a driver. In this city with it’s amazing public transport system, they have chosen to live off the beaten track in some elite conclave where you will struggle to get around without a car (though it’s not impossible) and then they can’t drive themselves but have to ferry the kids to schools that are not near home. Alas! I who live above an MTR station and probably pay one-tenth the rent they do cannot help mentally smirking.
Then one of the mums asked me if I knew where she could go swimming. Honestly, I have no idea because a lot of the upper middle-class estates have their own pools, so I suggested the government one but she did not seem keen, then I suggested the beach and she said she had been and it wasn’t fantastic. Erm. Apparently, it is not like beaches in England. See this is what I mean by moving but wanting exactly the same thing as you had back home. Granted, they probably moved because of job and not out of sheer excitement to be in Hong Kong but now that you’re here, why not experience it for what it is. And the beaches this part of town are lovely. They are secluded, and have basic facilities but that is part of the appeal.
Then she said, do you know any clubs. The one near where they live has a long waiting list. It would be great if they could just join a club and go there on the weekends to chill. Ok then. I cannot imagine why one would want to seclude oneself in a club instead of exploring a new city.
I have been thinking about inviting these kids over for play dates, but I wonder if our house will be too small and humble and simply brand Benji as ‘the poor kid’. Which is hilarious in the context of Hong Kong but this is the problem of affluent schools and your child gravitating towards the English-speaking kids. Ouff.
3. Had my first spat with a person in our apartment complex. The estate has a little area for urban farming, at the ridiculous expensive rate of $400 per month for 2 sq ft of land, I kid you not. However, people in Hong Kong are so divorced from nature that this has proved to be a popular activity. Only the people who do the farming are ferocious about protecting their produce, which I discovered the hard way. Was looking over the farm with the kids and pointed out a pea pod overhanging onto the path to Benji. I made the mistake of touching it, but very carefully and I didn’t let Benji who can be rough do so. I heard someone saying something in Cantonese in the background, and then this woman storms up to me, shouts in Cantonese and goes away. From her ranting, I guessed she did not take kindly to me touching her pea. Later, a security person actually comes and tells me that someone complained that we were ‘destroying their plants’. OMG. I told him to please show me the destroyed property. He slunk away. But this is the problem with this city – everything has to be fetishized and over-protected, even getting back to nature. Argh!