Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Things I Learnt on My Recent Trip Home to Hong Kong
(At long last ......... we appear to have our internet connection back and I can actually post something.)
So much has occurred since and during my trip. Whilst I was without the WWW at my fingertips I kept thinking of things to blog about and now.... now that the time has come I find myself with a new syndrome, Bloggers Block.
I decided on the flight from HK to name my next post 'What I learnt on my last Trip' so that seems like a good place to start (please note this list is neither chronological or exhaustive!).
The Truth about Airline Seat choice
That there is much debate on which is the better airplane seat - some (me) say the window seat, others prefer the aisle.
I can confirm where it is NOT.
It is NOT the window seat when the man with the BIGGEST belly I've ever seen is sitting in the aisle seat. This gentleman was a very nice man but he did have the most gigantic belly - I'm sure he caught me staring at it on a number of occasions. Poor chap, he barely had room to lower his food tray ..... when the seat in front was "in the upright position".
I confess, however, that I had less charitable thoughts when the switched off the cabin lights and it was time for the collective and largely enforced nap-time.
This brings me nicely to my next point.
Snoring knows no racial, geographical, social divide, those that snore can be of either sex, of ANY creed, sexual persuasion or race. It is unifying act in which joins together those who snore into a ........ um..... let's call it a Tribe.
Snoring also joins & unites those of us who do not (as a rule) and therefore HATE those who do!!!
Simply put, I was trapped between the two loudest snorers EVER. Not only that but the gentleman behind me had such a variety of noises and had such velocity it was hard to believe it could be real. It managed to wake me up though headphones and that awful constant airplane drone-y noise.
I summoned up my sternest Paddington Bear stare and turned around to discover he was fast asleep with blanket over his head!!
The poor chap next to him was distraught, we caught each other's eye, we bonded, we understood each other. I gave him a bracing, supportive kind of look and thanked the Lord I was next to the lesser of two evils.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a Walker - just ask anyone who knows me. The number of bracing walks I've been on that everyone seems to be loving and I'm just hating. I especially do not do hills and definately not hills and cold wind that makes my ears ache HOWEVER.......
I cannot express that joy and profundity that I discovered whilst walking around HK. In Dubai, you don't really walk anywhere. You might walk in the desert abit or when you walk the dogs but walking around town like you might in London or Hong Kong ? You just don't. You can't.
a) for about 6 months of the year you might die and b) Dubai just isn't set up for it generally (please note: there are of course places you can walk about and soak up atmosphere but again, approx 6 months of the year you can't do it for long and also the traffic is so hideous to get to them you just wouldn't bother)
So the sum total of walking is on shiny surfaces in malls or supermarkets. That's it.
In Hong Kong I walked as much as I could. There is something really grounding about getting your feet on the ground of the city, country, place that you are in. You feel actually connected to the place. Walking around (I never listen to my Ipod) and listening to the sounds of the place you are in, you experience the place fully. You become part of it or I guess to be more accurate, it becomes part of you.
In my case I just try to absorb as much of the HK vibe up through every pore and every sense I have. I re-charge my soul, refil my resevoirs again fully - I keep these reserves deep inside me. I guess it is part of the Buddhist philosophy of being 'present' in everything you do so you can fully experience it. I bet everyone who lives away from their Home does this to some extent when they return from whence they came.
I learnt that I do not ever want to become so jaded, self-absorbed or detached from feeling like a World Citizen that I become blase about suffering.
I also learnt that it is only human to identify with some things more deeply that others or places that you might not have experienced.
In past times, the Bali Bombings (although not 'natural') touched our lives in what felt like a very personal way - although, thank goodness, it didn't ....... directly.
It has been hard to comprehend the scale of the issues and the scale of the problems caused by the recent Burmese cyclone - but we can all understand the tragedy of loss. Mind-boggling.
The Sichuan earthquake, I guess for obvious reasons has touched myself, my family and actually all of Hong Kong in a profound way. The Chinese Government declared 3 days of mourning which included a 3 minute silence every day for 3 days at 2.28pm (the moment the earthquake struck). If you saw the footage or photos of people all over HongKong and China observing this silence, it would give you goosebumps and I challenge anyone not the be wiping at one tear away.
Someone said to me 'How could God let something like this happen? Where was God when this occured?' .
I believe that God (substitute 'Mother Earth', 'cosmic forces' etc according to your beliefs) is in what happens afterwards.
The awesome, breath-taking miracles of survivors, the tales of school-teachers and parents protecting children with their own bodies whilst losing their lives, the school-teachers that ran back inside to rescue their students and then tragically not coming back out again, the soldiers & other rescuers working tirelessly to find people, the joining together of an entire nation and indeed, a world community, the discovery that humankind is not always as selfish and self-seeking as we could be forgiven for thinking it is.
That is where God is.
There is so much more to be included on this list, I shall have to continue at a later date. I have 2 dogs that are demanding to be fed and as I've just written about how my faith in humanity has been restored by acts of selflessness - it is kind of hard for me to justify delaying the feeding of the animals!!!