Wednesday, July 6, 2011

While my granny's earlobes hung to the grills!

Were only half the seats in life just half as comfortable as a toilet seat!

Often these days when I sit on a toilet seat using one of those hand held showers, next to a pot in nearly all Asian loos... to bathe... With two fractured legs that's the best I could do to keep myself suitably washed... and often in such dull moments I wish if half the seats in life were just half as comfortable as a toilet seat...

If providence would have it her way, I literally walked into a pair of plasters last week outside Delhi Airport’s Terminal 3. The diabolic fall has come with a life time of bed rest, an appetite that being the only personal item I had deliberately lost once upon a time and a feeling of walking into the bed each night with shoes on.

Yet before this unqualified twist of destiny I was tripping around Hong Kong. Now I am not a travel expert nor am I sparsely intelligent... least then I knew to differ the H from the K of Hong Kong before I travelled that side. Many of my well wishers however had cordoned off my lean attempts to think of HK as anything better than a “concrete jungle, good for shopping and eating out or maybe a day trip to Macau for some gambling,” that is what everyone said to me... except for my friend Yosha (who painstakingly designed an HK to-do list for me)... who would be my host for the trip.

That is Yosha (my best friend)
But the simple joy of pure admiration comes to the callous myna as it would never to the wise eagle even with years of flight having eroded its aged wings. I was new like a new born to the surroundings and I was gregarious at best. HK opened its cloak far and wide and I penetrated unreserved. 

My landing in HK was safe... the airport was chaotic with every people from fair to far. A bunch of Pakistanis, while complimenting me on my perfect Urdu as I spoke to them in adulterated Hindi, led me to the point where my hosts were holding their patience and a cup for frozen yogurt for me. I only put pictures of my neck above on facebook, creating a general impression of being thin... sadly however, when Yosha saw me at the airport she realised that there is much more to a suitcase than just the frail handle.

The taxi ride from Lantau Island to the main HK Island where Yosha and Tish (the Ghosh couple) lived in the centre of the city was uneventful, but for the constant Cantonese bursting into my ears from the radio set in the taxi.  The drivers are just or more pissed off with the world in HK as those in Singapore are happy or apparently content.

Yosha’s flat was unique in a naturally artistic way... such that nature had painted its canvas and fixed it to either sides of her house. Through the lavish openings of the rooms I often saw the vast landscape walk in, dressed in different strokes at varying hours of the day.

That's the view from Yosha's and Tish's room

This was the rainy day view from my room

This was the twilight view from the living room

This is the view from the study

Rainy day view from the living room

As I warmed up to the rabid showers and liquid sunlight dripping through the rain-drops... hanging like my granny’s earlobes to the grills of the modest balcony, HK managed to keep me indoors for several days. 

Yosha and Tish took me to the Victoria Peak one day, which controversially (the hub of controversy mostly lying between the Ghosh couple) is the highest peak of the nation... and I almost believed that this is the most of ‘nature’ that I can see in here... The peak tram on its way down nearly made me throw up on a couple of various faces... But I managed to save the throwing up for a latter part of the trip...

That's the tram going down so steep I was almost sure Im dead!
HK is much like the city of Troy... as real as it is hypothetical... as embedded in the heat of today as it is borrowing from its several histories... stories of the British Raj still walk around the uphill streets and whisper themselves through myriad meanings and imaginary realities. 

When I heard some of them, I built my own history of this country. The British left behind an entire nation that had lived thus far on simulated wisdom. The government now is careful to the point where even casual repartee is mostly disallowed... except for some irregularities where drunk tufts crowd the skyline with complaints on tax problems amongst others. Mind you, tax in HK is only seven percent of the total income... if that may be considered any form of ‘problem’.

This funny old man musn't have been photographed as much on his own wedding I tell you!

Government has rationed land disposal for habitation on a piece-meal basis. 40 percent land is dedicated to nature reserves and country parks. One such park is called the Sai Kung East Country Park. The geography is so complex that I can’t nearly attempt to lecture you on that but I can assure you that with or without a lesson on that, you will get drowned in the unabashed beauty of HK. 

This enchanting fairy land had only its fairies missing

My tour guide Martin Heyens – when I spoke with him for the first time on the phone, I was flushed with the horror of spending an entire day with a British and an old one at that... is just a bit too much of colonial hangover-dose for me. But Martin beat me at my prejudice. 

That's funny old Martin walking through the bridge from his times to mine!
He is quite funny and awesome... a police officer from the times of British-HK, Martin stuck around in here like a shell on the beach while the waves returned to their original abode. Old as the name Martin itself, his legs were such a repository of energy that our 12 km long walk that day, slipped through casually without knowledge of its own existence.

As we walked through Stage II of the 100 km long Maclehose trail, the sun, the skies, rains, sands, trees, toads, crabs, crows, butterflies, bees, snakes and plants and 50 odd years of stories from Martin’s world followed us. The canopy of God changed its disguise every few moments and introduced itself to me with different names. Sands and sounds from the virgin beaches sometimes came to me as Sai Wan or Ham Tin and other times as Tai Long or Tung Wan... The sensuous heights of the Sharp peak stood between me and the dizzying clouds...  and far away from sight, the silky turquoise waters of the High Island Reservoir blurred the horizons of my imagination.

That's the Long Harbour

Can you see the Sharp Peak?

On our way we met with abandoned houses of the Chek Keng village that wept to me with stories of their barren wombs. Soon my journey was about to finish... I walked into it with a blank, I returned with a page and heart drenched with experiences... I bid Martin adieu.

On my second last evening, the Ghosh couple took me to Macau to the Playboy club where laps were being readily graced by luscious asses full with joy and silicon. 

We brought in Yosha’s birthday with drinks and we bade goodbye to it the next evening with many more drinks and a pot full of nausea. As I flushed it down, I wished if half the seats in life were half as comfortable as a toilet seat...

That's us so drunk even the camera felt a shiver
In the flight back home I was upgraded to Business class for a price that I paid after getting out of the airport... the two broken legs... it is all good for as long as I have friends that can paint plasters better than most of us can paint pictures of our fractured lives!

Thanks to my best friend Parineeta Sharma for this one