Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A love story - Part 2

I shall start-off with 2 Chinese sayings.

有缘千里来相会, 无缘对面不相逢
Those fated will meet despite being 1000's of miles apart, 
Those not fated will not recognize each other despite meeting face-to-face.

Those with feelings will not be separated by 1000's of miles,
Those without feelings will not have any "action" even when sharing a bed.


Part 2 - A dream vacation

One day in mid-1990's, another colleague WY who had recently relocated to Hong Kong with his wife asked me to chaperon his child to Hong Kong that weekend. Both WY and his wife had recently started their new jobs in Hong Kong and they had left their son in the care of WY's wife's sister who resided in Singapore because it would take them time to arrange for their son's care and education in Hong Kong. However, due to some passport related paperwork, they needed to get their son over to Hong Kong urgently and WY's sister-in-law had just fell ill and could not make the trip. So WY proposed that I get an all expense-paid trip  in exchange for chaperoning his son for 1 week. That is, accommodations and airfare paid for, a few meals with the family thrown in, and an offer to refund me any expenses incurred in entertaining their son.
By then, I had a reputation amongst my colleagues for being comfortable with children (and the children are also comfortable with me), especially pre-schoolers. Besides being a patient playmate, I was also able to explain things in simple terms which the children can understand, and was able to be firm when necessary. [I think my work experience as a pre-school assistant teacher played a big part in this.] Plus, both WY and his wife trusted me, and their son had enjoyed playing with me in our past social gatherings.
Given the offer, I thought, "Why not?" Up until then, the furthest that I had travelled was Malaysia (both East and West) because I was thrifty with the aim to break out of the poverty cycle. So I got permission from my immediate boss, packed my bags and decided what I would do for the days on my own, when WY and/or his wife was available to spend the time with their son. So I contacted my best friend in Hong Kong, AL and another colleague MS. AL promised to show me around Hong Kong, especially since I and CML had shown them around Singapore. I joked with AL that I would finally get to meet his girlfriend 6Snoopys.

On the 1st evening, I had dinner with WY's family and they took care of their son since the weekend had arrived. WY decided to stay at the hotel with his family, leaving me to live in at the condominium which they rented and were about to move into. AL and I arranged to meet up to visit Lantau Island the next day. The other colleague couldn't make it, so it was to be AL, 6Snoopys and me.

The next morning we met up as arranged. I was surprised to find AL alone and he seemed moody. Anyway, he didn't want to spoil my vacation, so he put on a brave front and started planning our day. Here's where things began to happen like a cheesy romantic movie.

It was a nice sunny summer day, and we had a pretty good time, e.g. trying the famous local food such as 山水豆腐 ["mountain water tou fu"], and enjoying the sights and sounds. We went up the many steps to the Tian Tan Buddha, of course taking my pace since I was asthmatic. When we finally reached the top, it suddenly started pouring. We rushed to one of the side shelters around (and under) the Buddhist temple. There was another couple there and we didn't want to spoil their privacy, so we moved on to another side shelter once the rain became lighter. Just as we entered the other shelter, the storm poured on. We decided to sit and chat instead. Before long, I broached the subject of why AL was not happy. AL replied that he just had a really bad quarrel with his girlfriend and they decided to break-up. I asked him what the issues were and based on his replies, it was a mix of stuff but most importantly the same crucial ones that they had been quarrelling about for some time. AL looked really sad, there was not much I could say, so I pat him and gave him a light punch on the shoulder as we chums used to do in the past. 

Eventually the rain stopped and we continued our sight-seeing, proceeding to Victoria Peak. AL had cheered up, but I sensed that there was a change in the mood. E.g. When we were looking down at the city from an outcrop with a slight breeze blowing at us, AL stood really closely behind me -- he pretty much had me between the railings and himself with minimal wriggle space -- ostensibly to shield me from the cold mountain wind. I did not know what to think at that time. We were chums, so I felt safe with someone that I trusted. It also felt nice to be "wanted" again after my break-up with TL some years back. Thus, I let things be.

Later at dusk, we had to walk through a dark patch of pavement to leave the peak. That stretch was dark because some of the usual lamp posts were blown out. I hesitated because I was scared. After all, I had watched numerous Hong Kong TV series which generally painted an image that Hong Kong was an unsafe place. AL turned around, he realized that I was scared. He was about to hold my hand, but instead offered that I held on to his "canvas shoulder-slinged school bag". I did as told. As we went through the dark patch, I wasn't quite sure on my footing and eventually AL held my hand the rest of the way. After exiting from the dark patch, he continued to hold onto my hand and I squeezed his hand to acknowledged that I was ok with that.

At nightfall, we went to the famous Women's Street [女人街] night market at Mong Kok, although I was not into buying any knick knacks. We passed by a street of fortune tellers, and I found their rhythmic Cantonese enchanting. AL saw that I seemed interested in the fortune tellers, so he suggested that I got my fortune told. I told him that I didn't want to waste money on such stuff, so he said that it would be his treat. I told him I don't know how to negotiate the prices, so AL checked out the stalls and decided on one elderly man nearby. The elderly man asked me what I wanted to know. Well, I wanted to say, "Everything about my life!" since I didn't know where to start, but that seemed rather unfocused. Then AL suggested 姻缘 ["love life"] and asked if I minded if he listened. And I replied, "Sure!" [Note: All conversations here were in Cantonese.] The old man did his calculations and said that I would meet my loved one soon. I asked, "How soon is soon?" He looked at me and AL and then said, "Very soon. You will know." I was thinking, "Nah! I am NOT his girlfriend, lah!" I think I showed my face of disbelief, so when I decided to ask the old man something else instead, he humoured me.

Thereafter, AL sent me home. [Note: In Hong Kong, it is customary for the guy to send the gal home to the doorstep, given Hong Kong's crime and safety issues.]

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