Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hong Kong again

February 2003

‘Of course we cannot share with someone else. We will need some privacy. Tom’s room is right next to mine. I can hear him snore. I think you know what I am talking about’
‘Naughty honey. But you are right, I agree. But you will have to take responsibility for that. How long will it take?
‘I don’t know. I know the property market is booming’

That evening I started to formulate a plan to return to Hong Kong, and the following day wrote to Henry that I wanted to meet up to catch up with outstanding actions, and start the process of moving more work to Shanghai.

Fortunately, he gave his support, and suggested that I make my visit to Hong Kong coincide with Nicky’s trip from Shanghai.

Armed with this, I sought the usual approval, suggesting that I would need one week.

A phone call from my boss soon followed, he questioned the need for the trip, and said that I had been absent a lot recently. In the end we compromised on a four day trip which included a part working weekend. But at least I was going to Hong Kong again at the end of the month.

The message was clear though; my trips would get closer scrutiny in the future. Maybe this really was my last trip.

Maggie was very happy when I gave her the news. ‘It’s only 4 nights though babe’
‘Still I am happy. Now I will see you soon’
‘Then we can talk properly about our plans’ I suggested.
‘Ok honey, I can’t wait. Where will you stay? Let me check for you. Find somewhere more convenient than the City Garden’
‘But my company get a corporate rate there’‘How much they pay? I might be able to get a promotion offer at another hotel. Save money. I will let you know tomorrow’

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I know how to handle

February 2003

‘I am confused’
‘Don’t worry honey, I will ask my mother. I know how to handle. Trust me’
‘I do. Will she be upset?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe.’
‘Well don’t upset her’
‘Honey, don’t worry, let me deal with it’

The following morning I had a note saying ‘Honey, Tonight I will have the dinner with Mother and Sister, I will tell them that I have to move to UK’

I tried to call her, but she was not at her desk, so I left a voicemail. Then I had to go to a meeting, and so I missed her call in return.

It was quite late when I called. She told me ‘Mother said I cannot live with you. She said we have to register first. Sister agree with her. She scold me, saying I should not ask’
‘Is that the same sister who lives with her boyfriend?’
‘No, she doesn’t. He has his own house’
‘But still he stays at hers’
‘And he will marry her soon’
‘Don’t know, maybe at Easter’

‘And surely, at your age, you can make your own decisions’
‘But then they will be unhappy, and my father and brother will scold me’
‘Your father? You don’t even speak to him’
‘Sometimes I do, just don’t have too much to say. But I cannot leave my mother without his permission’

‘So honey, we just have to stick to the original plan’
‘Which is?’
‘We will marry at Easter in Las Vegas, and then I will come to UK. Can you be ready for that?’
‘Well I will need to find somewhere else to live’
‘Do we?’
‘Of course, I share the apartment with Tom, and my house will be let by then. I don’t think we can share with someone else’
‘Not convenient, is it honey?’

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Monday, June 18, 2007

What clothes should I bring?

February 2003

A couple of days later, Maggie asked; ‘Any more news about the Hong Kong transfer’ So I told her, ‘The contract has been delayed, just not too sure when it will be awarded.
‘Do your Hong Kong company have any other work?’
‘No. There doesn’t seem to be much work in Hong Kong’
‘I know the economy is not good’
‘I’m sorry babe, I don’t know what else I can tell you’

‘Honey, do you think I could come to UK?’
‘Well that’s what we planned remember, you come over at Easter’
‘Honey, I’m thinking I could come to UK to live with you, until you get the transfer, you know I don’t want to wait’
‘But what about your job?’
‘I will quit the job. I know is a good job, but you are my future, so job is not my first priority’
‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
‘I think so. What else can we do? My job is not such a good job as you’
‘Have you said anything to your mother?’
‘No. I tell you first. But honey, you have to tell me, any reason why you don’t want me to come to UK’
What could I say? ‘No, of course not. What did you have in mind?’

‘When are you thinking you will come over?
‘After Easter’
‘So you won’t come over for Easter?’
‘Still can come, see how I like it. What clothes should I bring?’
‘Something warm, but don’t worry about that now’

‘And are you saying that you will come here to live before we get married?’
‘That’s what I think’
‘But you said before that we couldn’t just live together. You said your family would not accept it’
‘You know for me, married or not married doesn’t matter, but for them, they will say ‘why he don’t register with her? Maybe he is just playing the games with her’. They will be worried’
‘What even though they have known me this long?’
‘Honey is still only a couple months’

Friday, June 15, 2007


February 2003

‘Babe, we can talk about it later ok. Please don’t talk to anyone else before then’
‘Ok honey, call me anytime’

This gave me a few hours to think. I was rather enjoying all the talk of marriage, but I didn’t want her talking to her mother or, even worse, her sister. I didn’t want to create that expectation.

I called her minutes before our agreed 11pm curfew. ‘Babe, I don’t think you should talk to your mother yet. Not until we are have definite plans’
‘I think I need to tell them something’
‘Yes, but just wait until I can find out a bit more information. I might need a visa to go to US, I don’t really know, and do we need to book anything? I am not sure. So better find out first’
Reluctantly ‘Ok honey’
‘And as I said, I am not happy to marry until I am certain of my transfer to Hong Kong’
‘Any news, honey?’
‘Well, I checked, and it seems as if the contract has been delayed, its not a certainty yet, but that’s the way it is looking. And without that contract the business in Hong Kong is really struggling. They don’t have much work. Certainly not enough to cover my expat salary’
‘So what shall we do?’
‘Well let me double check first babe’

Then I asked, ‘weren’t you planning to come to the UK for Easter anyway?
‘But you know honey, I think UK can wait’
‘I was just thinking it would be better if you met my mother before we got married’
‘But honey, I don’t think you are that close with your mother’
‘Oh, why not?’
‘Because, the western families are not so close, not like us, as soon as the children growed up they leave home. Look at me honey, still living with my mother, I don’t think you will do that’

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now it is different

February 2003

‘Babe, I am saying for example only. Hopefully it will be much less than that, but you see what I mean? How can we go and get married and then be forced to part?’
‘You still don’t know when you can come over, right?’
‘No. The business here is very busy, but in Hong Kong, the business is quiet. They expect to win a big contract, if that happens, they may need me quite quickly, otherwise it could take some time’
‘I never know this when I met you. Then I think you are living in Hong Kong already. Now it is different. I love you already. Well honey, you never know, maybe your company will get the project soon, and then we can go to Las Vegas’

Then I asked her if she’d heard about the illness in Guangdong.
‘No honey, we haven’t heard of that, but is not surprising, the people of Guangdong are so dirty. Never know how they can live like that’
‘I doubt they get much choice. Anyway, I am not sure this illness is caused by being dirty’
‘What is the causes of that then?’
‘I don’t know. I just mentioned it, so that you can be a bit more vigilant. If you get another cold, or flu, you should go straight to the doctor’
‘Ok honey, but I am ok now’

After that, the story went away, and we didn’t talk about it again.

The next I had the following note:

I will talk to mother and sister, and tell them that we will get married at Easter’

I wrote a quick reply; ‘Babe, please do not talk to them, until we have had chance to speak’

But then I decided to call her, even though I knew she would still be at work, in case she hadn’t received the email.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Strange form of pneumonia

February 2003

‘Would you be happy with that?’
‘Well, nothing is perfect honey, and we don’t have to wait and is much cheaper I think. You know I don’t need expensive wedding’
‘I know, but I don’t want you to feel disappointed afterwards’
‘Honey, I understand, but don’t worry, once we register I will be happy enough…… So what do you think?’
I thought it was an awful suggestion; ‘Well if you are sure’

That evening, working late, I was idly reading the news on Yahoo. A report caught my eye. There were sporadic reports from the Guangdong province of southern China that hundreds of people were falling ill with what was described as ‘a strange form of pneumonia’.

I copied the report and sent it to Maggie, asking her to watch out for any flu like symptoms. It was less than a fortnight ago, that we had been traveling in Guangdong.

I was a bit surprised the following morning that she had ignores the note. Instead she sent me details of websites and information about weddings in Las Vegas.

That evening she asked me ‘Can you get the leave, at Easter? That is a holiday for you guys, isn’t it?’
‘As far as I know’ I said and then I asked her what she was planning, saying that I still didn’t have a date for my transfer to Hong Kong.
‘I think at least we can register, that is most important’

‘Are you saying that we go to Las Vegas at Easter, get married, and then continue to live apart, until I am able to come to Hong Kong?’
‘Not good huh honey?’
‘It would be horrible, what if I can’t move for another 6 months? Then what?’
‘Honey, I never think it will be that long. You never tell me that.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

February 2003

‘Somewhere else? What do you mean somewhere else? You don’t mean the UK? What about your family and friends?’
‘Honey, friends are not important. Do you know how much it the wedding dinner will cost? Of course they will come to eat the dinner, you don’t know Hong Kong people, they will just bring the little gift. So I think better not, better save the money’
‘But do you really want to upset them?’
‘Oh, doesn’t matter. As I said family is much important, not friends. Friends are ok to talk or sometimes the dinner, that’s all. You know if I want to buy the new dress, I never go with friends, they are not honest, they may tell you to buy the dress even though it is not nice looking, because they are jealous, something like that. I always go with mother or sister, only they can be trusted’
‘Do you ever see any of your friends?’
‘Sometimes might meet up for lunch, but in the evening I just rather be at home. You know after the work, will be tired, so just lie in the bed watching tv. Honey, you know I don’t go out much, I am always here waiting for your call.
‘You should try to see them sometimes babe, otherwise you will lose touch’

‘So honey, what do you think?’
‘About what?’
‘We could go for travelling and get married’
‘I don’t know, what about your mother?’
‘She will not mind. She will just be happy that we registered’
‘By registered, you mean marry?’

‘Honey, We just need to think about you and me. Not the others. We will be together for the rest of life. I will not live with my mother, I will live with you. I think we have to be selfish’
‘So what do you have in mind?’
‘Honey, you know what?
‘We could get married in Las Vegas’

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Somewhere else

February 2003

Again, the following evening, we started to talk about weddings, Maggie had a new idea.

‘Honey, do you think we need to marry in Hong Kong? You know will be expensive, and we will have to wait’
‘I thought we chose Hong Kong, because it is quicker than marrying in the UK’
‘How long will it take in UK?
‘Remember, I told you, when I made some enquiries, I was told it was a 6 to 12 month waiting list.
‘I can’t believe. As we always say in Hong Kong, the western women don’t like to marry. We always think the westerner just live together only. So how will there be a wait list?’
‘Sorry babe, but you are wrong, western women do like to marry, it gives them more security. Marriage is still very popular here’
‘Ah, the westerner women just want to have the baby, then they can get the man’s money. I hate that sort of woman’
‘I don’t believe any women play tricks like that’
‘Honey, I can tell you they do. A friend of my sister, living in US, had a baby, then divorced the man. When she get his money, she go to live with another man. Honey, you have to be careful, otherwise the woman might do that to you, get pregnant on purpose, just to get your money. But you know, I will never do that, I am not that type of woman. You know I am not the money minded woman’

I assured her that I did know that, and tried to change the subject, but not before telling her once again that she was wrong about ‘western women’. ‘See’ she replied, ‘from out point of view, westerner women are not family oriented, they only care about money’ Then…..

‘Honey, you know we could get married somewhere else’

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Never can be divorcing

February 2003

‘It’s ok to ask’ I said, ‘but don’t book anything before you have spoken to me’ I wanted to slow things down a bit.
‘Nothing wrong, honey?’
‘No. I just need to check that I can get the time off work. I don’t want any problems’

The following evening; ‘Honey, Peninsular hotel will be expensive. But I was thinking, you know the price is based on number of people, and I don’t have too many friends, so we could have a small dinner, to save money. Mmmm ……….. but then we will not get so many gifts. Let me think’

‘Babe, you know I still don’t know when I can move to Hong Kong’
‘So nothing is perfect; what do you think?’
‘About what?’
‘When you can be here’
‘I don’t know. There are a lot of problems here, and they are taking priority’
‘So, what shall I tell my mother?’
‘What have you told her already?’
‘Nothing. She just knows that we will marry when you come to Hong Kong. She just always asking when that will be’
‘I will ask someone’ I tell her

‘Is it too much pressure, honey?’
‘No of course not babe, I just wish I could give you more definite news’

She was quiet for a while, and then said ‘I want to go to Caribbean for the honeymoon, is that ok honey?’
‘Of course, I haven’t been before’

‘Honey, I want to ask you; ‘anything on your mind?’’
‘No, I don’t think so’
‘You still want to get married, right?’
‘Of course, I just don’t want to set a date, until I am sure that I can meet it. I don’t want to disappoint you’
‘Is there any reason, why you can’t marry me now? You have to tell me’
‘Like what?’
‘Nothing. You know, when we are married, never can be divorcing. No-one ever divorcing in my family. You have to promise me honey. Can you do that?’

I couldn't, but I did.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What does it mean?

February 2003

Nothing much was said on the subject again, to my surprise it just seemed to disappear. I’d expected Maggie to raise it again, but she didn’t. It was as if it had never been said.

Our conversation however, over the next few days was fairly happy, with a lot of ‘Honey, I love you’, ‘Honey, you are the superman’, and ‘I can’t live without you’. So I was happy too. And we started to laugh again. ‘You know honey, all the problem is caused because we are aparting’ she said.

Then, one night as we talked about nothing in particular, she suddenly asked ‘what shall we do for the wedding dinner? You know by our tradition, we must have the dinner for friends and family’
‘Actually it is the same in UK. It is called a reception’
‘I have the friend who works in the Peninsular hotel. I can ask her the cost, but must be expensive’
That drew me in. ‘Don’t worry about cost’
‘Honey, I know you are not money minded to me. That is good. Means you care about me. But you know I want to save the money for you. This is my job’

‘So you think you want to marry in Hong Kong now? I asked. ‘Before, when we spoke, you didn’t seem sure’
‘I just don’t want too much delay. Seems UK will take a long time. I will think what to do. You know I want my family to know we are serious. Not just playing the game.’
‘I thought that is why we got engaged, doesn’t that show we are serious?’
‘Engagement? What is that? To the Hong Kong person engagement is nothing. What does it mean? Do I have your name? Only when we register, then I am secure’