Monday, December 19, 2011

Don't expect me to cry, don't expect me to lie, don't expect me to die for thee

So I'm writing again. It's Monday, I just blogged yesterday, what could I possibly have to talk about?

My landlord invited me over for dinner with her family. It was her and her husband and their son and of course the domestic helper they have.
The food was delicious. Cantonese style food. We had three dishes: a sweet and sour pork dish with peppers and pineapples and other veggies, some kind of a chicken dish with carrots and potatoes, and then scallops with I think snap peas and more carrots and mushrooms. It was all delicious. We had a soup after that and then the chocolate mousse cake that I brought (always supplying the healthy food!).

They were so polite. And they started teaching me how to say a few things in Cantonese. It was a really nice gesture and I greatly appreciated it.
We had a nice conversation about Hong Kong, the culture, they asked a lot about my and my family and America. I just... I feel very lucky. I really like them and that makes my living situation so much more... comfortable.

[The Australian news show just used the word "spifflicated".]

Thursday is apparently the winter solstice which is an important holiday here where most people leave work early to be with family. Our group is all going out to a big lunch all afternoon. (I've got too much work to do to afford the time off, but if everyone's going...)

And of course to tie back into the title of this post:

Cheers all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An afternoon beverage...

I got my Christmas packages sent out today, I'm a little skeptical about the process of writing the contents on the box for customs and how that kind of ruins Christmas... Don't customs officers love Jesus?

But none the less I sent things as fast as I could, I think. The guy wouldn't really commit to anything, more of a suggestion. And it wasn't all that expensive. The shipping didn't cost more than the items. Nice.

So feeling good about being done with that hassle (and let me tell you hauling boxes full of gifts on the MTR, through TST, to the ATM to get cash, and finally to the post office was exhausting) I thought I'd reward myself with lunch and a pint at a pub.

A pub with Stars of David on their Christmas decorations.

Now I'm finishing my lunch and enjoying the second half of my Guinness when a gentlemen walks in and sits down who happens to wearing a Devils cap. There are like 20 of us Devils world wide and most of them live IN NEW JERSEY. Meeting one in Hong Kong seems impossible. But there I am having a conversation with another New Yorker about American sports and specifically our New York area teams. Nuts.

To add to the chain of coincidences, while I'm talking to this guy, an architect that I'm working with on one of my projects walks in with his girlfriend/wife.

In the span that I was there, I met a guy who lives in Hells Kitchen who's also an engineer and a Devils fan and ran into one of the countable number of people I know in Hong Kong... Was there some mystical significance to that place? Was I supposed to be there on a metaphysical level? The world may never know.

In other news the apartment is a lot more apartment-y with a couch and pretty much all of my furniture. I know how exciting my furniture news is for you guys.

Right now I'm looking forward to seeing my old friend Mr. Jeff Dalton for Christmas. We'll probably head out to the western district and see what kind of trouble we can dig up.
Oh and my landlord invited me over for dinner this coming week. Her and her husband have been nothing but nice and helpful about the whole process. So I'm looking forward to it.

That's all, what's up in your world people? I love hearing from my friends and family, so please throw me a line.

Merry Christmas everyone and I'll catch you on the flip side.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We're going back to the blog...

Hey friends!

First off, I obviously took a while to blog again. A couple of reasons for that:

A) I've been busy. The act of moving into and furnishing an apartment is really really time consuming. (Plus side: I'm in an apartment and when my couch shows up this week, I'll actually be able to sit down and relax in my own apartment). Also work's been draining, it's been taking so much out of me that it's hard to find the energy to write about anything.

B) Work isn't the only thing that draining. Culture shock and settling in can also take a bit of an emotional toll. It hasn't been an easy adjustment and it wasn't a couple of weeks that I wanted to blog about for everyone to see. But I'm sure anyone who's done anything like this knows what I've been going through. You miss the little things that make home, home. And the little annoyances in your new location just grate on you until you can barely stand it. But you wait and you hold tough and you realize that it's all going to be alright. (A good night out drinking with another New Yorker who can talk baseball can really be a mental reboot. Good to see you Greg!)

C) Most of my expendable mental energy has gone into making sense of my other situation. I spent a lot time in self reflection and making sure I felt alright or if I didn't, why. It really was monopolizing my thoughts (and rightfully so) but again it was nothing to blog about. Despite Facebook and Twitter and all the others, deep personal introspection has no place in the digital public square.

I have no intention of complaining about any of the above, I just wanted to give some reasons for why I've been so quiet.

The big event of note was the Arup Annual Dinner. This is like a holiday party in that it's around Christmas and with everyone from the office. Those are about the only ways however. First and most notably, there is a theme. 2011: Circus Circus. So during cocktail hour* there were clowns and magicians. If your company didn't have anyone on a unicycle at the holiday party, you missed out. But the performers weren't the most noteworthy aspect of the theme. That would be the fact that those attending are welcome to dress in costume. So it's a formal thing (I wore a suit) but you can also wear a costume, there were employees dressed as clowns, monkeys, ring leaders, etc. This isn't just tolerated, there's a costume contest built into the entertainment. (More on the entertainment later). So they're giving out Long Service Awards to people who've been with the company a while and surrounded by well dressed coworkers, there's a guy in a circus monkey costume accepting his award. Now if you don't have a crazy costume but still want to accessorize they had a table with clown wigs, giant glasses, sequin bowties, etc. The Directors were encouraged to don a little gay apparel. I had never seen anything like this.

And the entertainment. They had two emcees (going over everything in two languages) they had Vegas style show girls with the outfits and the feathers, they had professional singers who apparently were old celebrities around here. A number of the locals went nuts!! (One singer sang a medley of James Bond themes...) Of course there was a live band to go with them, too. They had a professional hula hoop girl come do some amazing things! It was a spectacle. And the production value. A huge stage with a professional set. Four giant screens with pro quality video cameras filming so everyone could see from anywhere in the banquet hall. It was stunning!

And breaking up the courses of dinner were silly games. Music Bingo, create the longest chain of balloons, etc etc.

You might ask yourself, "what's the catch? That's got to be expensive." And the catch is booze. There was beer, and wine with dinner. But that's it. No real bar like at an old fashioned party at home. But I suppose you can't have it all.

So other than that, I'm finding more things to make myself comfortable here. Discovering places in the western districts that are pretty neat. There's an Italian Delicatessen that I found that I will probably go back to on regular basis. Prosciutto and Mozzarella!

What else, what else? I have a television but I'm only getting the base set of channels right now which doesn't have a wide range of English language stations. I find myself watching literally anything on the Australia Network. I might buy a BBC package and a sports package (ESPN would be so nice) but I'm going to hold off a bit on that.

I do miss all of you guys and anyone who finds themselves on Skype at an hour when I'm awake here, my skype handle is christopherpsimon.

Also download either whatsapp (+85293002381) or textplus (cpsimon), for your Androids/iPhones and we can text for free.

I'd love to hear from you guys.

Sorry I don't have pics. But I'll get some up when I have a couch and I've sorted things a little more.


*Cocktail hour was cheap beer, orange juice, and coca cola. No real cocktails to speak of. But it was an hour...