Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Disco pain

I'm sure that London is the middle of the world. I went to an Afghani concert last Friday and Congolese the week before. And I discovered that I'm not the only white person who thinks they can do a bit of soukous dancing.

I've been taking afternoon coffee breaks at a Portugese cafe near work but I'm now thinking of sharing myself with the Palestinian Cafe across the road, owned by the son of one of my students.

And these days, London is the place to hold the world premiere if you've made a big budget Hindi film. I'm slightly devastated that I'll be at work next Thursday evening when 'Om Shanti Om' premieres. Otherwise I'd be off to Leicester Square with the camera.

I've never really been a SRK fan but I am becoming one after seeing this interview where he really sends himself up for 'exposing' in 'Dard-e-Disco' ('Disco Pain'). The full English translation starts at 1:40 but why not watch all the way through and test your Hinglish?

And for Pip (and others?), here is the exposing...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In which the author experiences a minor epiphany

While I was in Australia in September I applied for a job in Hong Kong. It was a vacancy which doesn't come up very often and I only noticed it a couple of days before the deadline.

I was invited for a phone interview which didn't go too well. I was quite sure that the interviewers hadn't read my application, CV or the 3 references they asked for in advance.

And I realised that the job wasn't exactly what I thought it was. They were looking for someone to teach kids though the daytime and then adults in the evening.

I started to worry that my students would all be kids with pushy parents and adults hoping to climb the corporate ladder and buy £10,000 diamond rings (ask Jean!).

And then I realised how much I enjoy my classes here. Ramadan finished the day after the interview and suddenly classes were full and students were all kissing each other.

I had a few thoughts. It's quite important to me that I'm teaching classes that are free (or close to it). I also like the fact that I'm teaching people of mixed age from a variety of countries.

I'm still not sure where I want to live but I know what I do (and don't) want to do. So I was quite relieved when I didn't get that job.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Unwanted guests

My world is spinning out of control. Our real estate agent called last week to say that the landlord is selling our flat.

There have been inspections every day this week. The idea of moving is scary but not as much as the thought of all the dirty shoes tramping through.

It's horrible coming home and realising that things have been moved while I was out. If inspections go on much longer I think I'll lose the will to clean.

The flat is up on the agent's website and is listed as 'under offer'. Hopefully it's sold soon. When it is, I think we deserve a commission for making it look like this:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sydney (in pictures this time)

Semi-interesting things are actually happening in my life now so I'm hurrying up and posting the rest of my holiday pictures.

It was such lovely trip. Especially since I was staying in the new family home at the bottom of Manly Beach.

In a beautiful old house with a gorgeous balcony for drying armpits...

... and a cosy lounge room for um... relaxing with friends.

Plus, it was just minutes away from a great wedding photo location. They looked so lovely!


Having coeliac disease in Hong Kong made life tricky. Many things used for flavouring in Chinese food (soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese wine, MSG etc.) contain gluten. White rice and Chinese tea anyone?

Thank goodness for the illegal Nepali restaurants of Jordan. They provided the basis of my diet, supplemented with all my old favourite snacks like water chestnuts on a stick, still only $HK3!

And this grapefruit and durian pudding. We went out for midnight dessert with Deco, Daisy and Joseph after they closed their shop. You can see Daisy still deliberating in the background.

And of couse, lai cha. When I told Daisy where I'd been for tea, her eyes opened wide and she whispered across the table 'That is the famous meeting point for .....'.

No wonder it was so atmospheric! I'll make it a regular hang out if ever I go back and send text messages to friends like 'Mido. 11am. Bring little finger'.

Friday, October 12, 2007


One of my colleagues said this week that she is having difficulty getting students to talk about their own lives. 'They don't seem to do anything except cook, clean, go to Tesco and look after the kids' she complained.

'Replace kids with work and that sounds just like my life' I said. It's lucky I still have holiday photos to blog. Since I got back, work has consumed most of my time. I'm doing more hours this term and the start of the school year is a very busy time.

Anyway, here's more stuff from HK:

First of all, my old home, right above this sign. It was weird to see it with someone else's curtains up.

And my old work had changed too. The same mural was still up in the classroom with some noticeable additions. I told my ex-colleague she should be flattered but then she asked if I had noticed the messy sentence at the bottom.

I love the way that the elderly are depicted in public service notices in HK. This one is as good as the one with cheerful and cute old ladies with buns getting pickpocketed by somone who looked like Hamburgler.

Does anyone actually bother to look at this notice except for me? I had fun figuring out what each of the pictures meant.

And I thought these were kids' clothes until I saw the sign...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wo ai ni, wo ni jiang

When one of my friends invited me to a charity concert in Sha Tin by disabled performers I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out that I'd got a ticket to a sold-out concert by an group on a world tour.

It started with a dance by deaf performers. Not being able to hear the accompaniment, they followed a couple of conductors (and each other) and managed to dance spectacularly in perfect timing.

Unfortunately, I got in trouble after taking the above photo (without flash, I'm not that bad) and had to put my camera away. Subsequent performances were amazing. There were blind singers who did a song in Mandarin called 'I love you, my home' which is still in my head.

And the highlight was a scene from a Chinese opera. A blind orchestra played while a blind man and a deaf man enacted a dramatised fight. Incredibly, the blind man made sure they kept in time with the music while the deaf man made sure their movements were coordinated.

Hooray for such generous friends. I later found out that another friend was supposed to go and had given up his ticket for me! Poor guy had to content himself with the DVD. I felt bad but also very lucky!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


My camera has returned and there are plenty of holiday photos I want to post. I'm starting with the day that Jason, Mary and I headed out to Lantau Island...

My first surprise was getting to Central and finding that the Star Ferry pier was no more!

Mui Wo had changed too. My old crumbling home had been made over as 'Casa Elmira', replete with a security gate and concrete wall.

Sunset Peak, however, was still the same. Up top it was at least five degrees cooler than the rest of Hong Kong and a refreshing breeze was blowing.

I've never seen many people staying in the huts at the top. I guess that scouts or school groups must occasionally use them. It's not somewhere you would want to stay more than one night.

We hiked down towards Mui Wo and strolled along the beach before getting the ferry back into the city again. It was nice to be back.