Posted by: Sam Olsen | February 5, 2012

Home At Last

So, in answer to step-father Peter’s question: Where is home? I can tell you now that, for me, it’s Hong Kong. The UK is lovely, when you don’t have to commute or go to the supermarket or find a plumber. When you can laze about at the grandparents’ (and the Taylors and the McAndies), and Lawrence can play with all his little chums. But this isn’t everyday life. So, much as I was rather dreading the return to Asia, I realise that’s more to do with going back to work than HK itself!

The airport expressed whisked us into the city centre and a £2 cab ride later we were back at The Grand Panorama. Home sweet home.  The pressure was now ON to get the red envelopes organised. While we were away, we’d missed the Lunar New Year passing. We are now in the year of the Dragon which is particularly auspicious (after all, who wants to be a rabbit or a rat when you could be a dragon?).  There are stories of a mini-baby-boom across China so that parents secure a baby dragon. But for us this meant a much more simple obligation, we had to hand out cash to, well, everyone really. Certainly everyone younger, more junior, in a service sector that we ever come into contact with. As a friend said last night, this goes against everything British. Handing over cash? face to face? publicly? eek!  Like a Christmas tip for the milkman I suppose, but rather than being slipped gently into a Christmas card, or passed across unseen in the shaking of hands, this is a full on ‘bow-and-two-handed-handover’, accompanied by the words ‘Kung Hei Fat Choy’, and much wishing of health and wealth for the year ahead. And they must be new notes, so I loaded up my handbag with crisp new twenties and shiny red envelopes, and proceeded to dish them out willy nilly. I received two myself; one from the country CEO, and one from the Country Risk Officer. Strictly speaking they should go only to those more junior than you. The secretaries were a conundrum. As mentioned before, many of them are strictly in ‘tai tai’ territory; fancy rich wives who work just to pass the time. So would it be an insult to give them the equivalent of £1.80?! Yes, probably, came the response from some of the more seasoned gweilos! 

The city is a-buzz with lion dances, and beautiful little trees with pink blossom and more red envelopes hanging from the branches.   There are clementine (mandarin?!) plants everywhere in gold pots. Lawrence busies himself by grabbing one wherever he can and crushing it to a pulp in his little paw. 

Now, a note of apology to Mrs Sarah Gamsu and her new husband Joel. I have not yet managed to load up any photos onto the website of your wonderful wedding. However, I would like to say that we had an amazing time in South Africa and in particular at your wedding (the clothes are all off to the dry cleaners after that dancing I can tell you!). You make a very happy couple and we wish you an especially big Kung Hei Fat Choy! for this your first married year together. 

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