It has not escaped my notice that this blog has turned into a “what I read” update space. Which is telling in some ways, as possibly that is what I am more enthusiastic about these days.
But I’m going to have a stab at possibly monthly updates about what I’ve been up to, if for no other reason than me being able to look back on these days years later and have some sliver of these moments preserved.
So August. I can barely remember what went down, so I’m going to go backwards.
At the end of the month – technically the beginning of September but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to remember this at the end of September – we took the kids to the Murakami exhibition at the renovated former police headquarters turned art/culture space Tai Kwun (if you’re ever planning a visit to HK, this is worth a stop-by).
The planned outing started with drama. Nene, who seems to be going into adolescence early (more on that later, maybe), got into a fight with V about something, it escalated and he refused to come if daddy was going. Now I had prepaid for this craft event for both kids, apart from the fact that I was sure Nene would have a great time if he came and I wanted us to have a family outing, so I was not pleased.
We finally got ourselves out the door and I got Nene some cake which he decided not to eat before we entered the MTR, then decided he wanted to eat in the MTR which is a no-no for me. So then he managed to piss me off.
Thankfully, we all calmed down by the time we got to Tai Kwun. The craft activity was making these cat masks, which went down well with Mimi but stretched Nene’s patience (even though I had asked him before if he wanted to do it. This kid does not have an art bone).
Next, we were supposed to see the Murakami exhibition. I had waited to buy tickets till the last minute because I was not sure what the situation with the protests was going to be, and then when we got there I couldn’t manage to and then the online booking ended. So after the art class, I raced over the booking counter and it turned out that there was a family tour happening in 10 minutes.
It turned out to be the best thing, because ok there were activities for the kids, but I got a snapshot of what Murakami was about, which I would have struggled to had we just gone ourselves. Of course, each room was a visually stunning installation, so the first impression itself is woah. Normally, I would read every word of the signage, but with kids it’s hard. Anyway, let’s just say there’s a lot more to Murakami than the surface of his jazzed-up panoramas, his art is both “superflat” and in-depth. I’m a fan.
The family tour was in English and had little drawing activities for the kids, which again Mimi loved and Nene did not (but he survived). I encourage people planning visits to Tai Kwun with kids to look out of these guided tours and activities because they are great.
We were starving at the end of the tour – I had intended to have lunch between the craft and the exhibition, but got steamrolled into the tour – so we grabbed lunch at a rather pricey burger joint next door. It was literally empty, bringing home to us how business has suffered as a result of the protests.
So as you might know, unless you are living under a rock, Hong Kong has been upended now by three months of escalating protests. They started out peaceful, and in opposition to a stupid law, but quickly turned not-so-peaceful and then openly violent (first towards government buildings, then the police, then the odd opponent/mainlander), while the government stewed and acted always too late to stem the escalation.
I supported the opposition to the bill, but now the protests are mainly rip everything up and start over, which I can appreciate the anarchic logic of, just that I don’t think everybody, including half the protesters, the media (especially the Western media) and the general public outraging about the latest police brutality, gets it. If anything, I think government might be the one that realises what this is about and how powerless they are. This is an unstoppable wave that nothing they can do will step so they can only flap about ineffectually.
Despite the mayhem, we have only been affected twice or two-and-a-half times. Once when there were disruptions on the MTR and I had to inch forward in the crowd for about 20 minutes to get on a train, once when a general strike was called and we just stayed home and worked, and the last time, when we had to cancel dinner because protesters were starting fires around where the dinner was planned.
I was pissed about the last one because I felt V was too quick to cancel, though it then escalated right on the doorstep of the dinner plan so he was vindicated. However, I had a hair cut that evening (finally caved and found someone fairly good to cut my hair in our local mall instead of shlepping all the way to Sheung Wan) and hoped for once to put my blow dry to some use. I also felt guilty about cancelling on the single girl in the group, but I had a slight tummy upset that day, so I wasn’t inclined to go out anyway. Can you tell I still feel guilty?
Anyway, although everything looks bad, and it is for business, it is actually not unsafe on a daily basis. Because Hong Kong protesters are still a fairly controlled bunch, unless you wander into the thick of their shit and start arguing with them.
One weekend we went to the beach when a Typhoon 1 warning was on. That’s the lowest typhoon warning, but I was surprised V was ignoring it. I thought we’d be the only idiots on the beach, along with the die-hard seniors who swim every day, but it turned out there were lots of others.
It was lovely. The beach is really my sweet spot. Then it started really pelting down, so we got out and then had to wait a good half hour before we could get out of there.
But still worth it.
At work, I’ve been shunted into taking over frenemy’s job, which I made sure to give my boss shit about. I go back and forth over whether to commit to it permanently as he would like me to, but coming to the end of the trial period, I’ve decided no thanks. I’m not doing pointless shit for no reward.
Mimi finally made a solid friend in the building and has spent a lot of time going to her house and apparently making music videos on her computer. She was invited to two birthday parties over the summer – one of which I spent the entirety of arguing with old French dude about the protests (white men often think they know everything about everything) despite myself, then agonising that I had said too much/been rude which is now the story of my life – while Nene had none. Nene also has a couple of buddies he plays with, although he sometimes wants to avoid one of them which puts me in an odd place with said boy’s mother, but I’m trying to just roll with the male way of doing things aka avoidance.
Mimi is maturing physically faster than medical professionals would like and we’re watching that. I am constantly amazed at the lack of inhibition with which she moves her body – not sure if it’s innate (did not come from me, but possibly her aunts) or helped by her ballet class.
Nene is sports and video-game obsessed, which feeds into his hyper-competitiveness. I used to worry, but he takes failure in his stride. He tends to shit on Mimi sometimes which I will not brook. He also gets emo over the smallest things, which is a surprise because he was our Mr Placid, but hormones I guess?
We started the month with the beach too, going off for a weekend to Lantau Island, our little retreat in Hong Kong. I got mysteriously sea sick on the ferry there, exacerbated by a twisty bus ride and a too-soft banana I had consumed on an empty stomach, but it lasted the whole weekend and gave me a month-long aversion to bananas. Or maybe it was ovulation hormones. Nevertheless, in a sign of how Lantau is my happy, I still had a lovely time, hanging on the beach and with the fam.