Monthly Archives: February 2010

New Year’s Resolutions – REVISED

Oh dear, so it’s nearly March and I’ve found myself revising my New Year’s Resolutions already — but no, I won’t be dismayed with myself for it.  I basically pared down all my hours requirements by 8 hours a week.  I was finding myself digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole, unable to finish 15 hours of additional Chinese study, 7 hours job-seeking, and 10 hours exercising a week.

Also, upon calculating what that all added up to, in addition to the 25 hours a week I already spend commuting and going to school, I was not giving myself enough time to sleep/eat/do chores/and of course… have fun!  So for what averages out to a little over an hour extra per day, I don’t feel too badly.

In terms of my other New Year’s goals, which I hadn’t yet written on, and alluded to earlier…

The Tattoo I am on track to getting this tattoo I have been contemplating for months now.  I have selected my artist (a fabulous local HK woman), visited for two consultations now, and put down a hefty deposit.  Ink date has been set — March 3rd, 2010!!  I will write more on this another post.

Matters of the Heart I am not sure if I am on track with this.  I have written very little about dating/loving/liasing in HK.  It is actually a pretty deep subject that I have thought about a bit since moving, and would surely arouse much discussion and debate.  In any case, I had heard an Indian celebrity proclaim in a new year’s commercial on Indian tv that his resolution this year was to “spend more time with the people who love me.”  I thought it a very interesting statement.

We often find ourselves pursuing those that we love.  Whether or not these people love us back is a totally separate matter.  But upon hearing this celebrity speak so resolutely about this goal, I saw the seriousness of this statement and thought to adopt it for myself as well.  Have I done good with it?

I can’t really tell yet; as usual I am just doing my best to evade this inescapable vulnerability of humanity.

And with this entry – I am good for the month of February for blogging once a week (I was away in Thailand last week – and I decided that when on holiday, my resolutions must also go on holiday.  I have to enjoy it after all).

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Some Words On India

I realize I have yet to include something about  my recent trip to India, and I’m already preparing for another foray within Asia in a few days (I go to Thailand for the Chinese New Year holidays).  So before this carries on any longer, I’d like to say a few words on my two-week trip to India.

I’d always wanted to go to India.  Back home I’ve had many friends of Indian descent, and I have always loved the food and the fashion, so this trip had long been on my wishlist.  I knew I’d have a substantial time off between semesters at CUHK, so it was a no-brainer to attempt to go to India, especially as the weather (in the South) is at least bearable in December-January.

I joined a tour group, which is the usual course for me, as I often can’t round up enough people to travel when I would like to or how I would like to, plus, it’s useful as I don’t have to think much.  I went with GAP Adventures, a touring company I’ve used a few times now, whose tours are relatively inexpensive and have an emphasis on cultural experiences.  The flexible schedules also  allow each of its participants to do as he or she pleases.  The particular tour I enrolled in took us from Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and other great sites, then across Rajasthan through Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, and Mt. Abu, an overnight train to Mumbai, finishing off with a few days in Goa.  It seemed to cover a lot of the basic sites I’d wanted to see in India, plus I managed to meet up with my friend Namit in Mumbai during my one day in town.

When I met up with Namit in Mumbai, which was close to the end of my tour, he was anxious to hear my impressions of his homeland.  Unfortunately, I did not quite have anything obviously good to say.  For starters, it was just that night that my stomach finally succombed to what some call the “Delhi Belly.”  I was, not to gross you dear readers out, suffering in the train restroom nearly every hour on the hour from 2AM til arrival at about 10AM.  I don’t think I ate anything particularly unsanitary, but that my system was just unaccustomed to the incredible spices (Indian food is just nothing like the way it is in India) and all the ghee on top of ghee on top of ghee.  

To sum India up in one word, it is “profound.”  It is just an experience like no other in the world.  For starters, while I’ve been to other “third world” countries, none ever seemed so impoverished.  The population just impounds the experience, and worse, while touring at some of the grandest palaces and forts in the world while poverty encircles every other moment, you can’t help but notice it even more.  In spite of this, there is just so much color — from the multi-tin spice racks to the bright sarees all around.  Also, it seems people, no matter how little they have, don’t appear all that unhappy at all.  People are still doing their thing and most importantly, smiling. 

It definitely got me thinking about China — where things are a trillion times more organized under a Communist regime, and yet I did not get the same  sense of personal happiness during my visit in 2006.  On the other hand, living conditions in India are beyond sub-par.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a trash receptacle, and for those who asked – yes, animals (mostly cows) do roam freely in the streets and people (men and occasionally women) will relieve themselves wherever they find themselves. 

So, under the influence of harsh diarrhea, all I could mutter to Namit was how dirty the country was.  I wish I could have explained it better at the time, but I was just so floored by the amazing contrast between the rich and poor, I truly felt pained witnessing this.  It just did not seem necessary, and yet it was very much a part of the norm in India. 

Things got progressively better as I headed south.  Obviously Mumbai presented far more equality, yet still there were interspersed throughout the city several slums, made up of what appeared to be piles of rubbish really!  Goa was the most egalitarian.  Not only were the environs simply gorgeous, and things a whole lot cleaner, but I did notice quite a few women business-owners, like the lady I met when I went to do my mani-pedi for $6 USD, and her restaurant-owner client, who needed a hair consultation in preparation for an upcoming event.  

Another area of great and somewhat disturbing contrast was conservatism and religious following.  On New Year’s Eve, my group, made up primarily of girls, went to a party at a hotel located just outside of Pushkar.  Our guide thought there’d be a decent mix of tourists and locals, so that it should have been an appropriately fun time for us as outsiders.  And at first, it was quite fun — the garden was festively decorated, the tikka incredibly good.  We split a bottle of whiskey and looked onto the dance floor, which soon became occupied by young men only.  When we got onto the dance floor, it began as a fun novelty experiencing a ratio of 10 adoring men to 1 woman, especially as Indian men seem to really enjoy dancing without any restraint – unlike Westerners (for the most part).  Yet, at some point, things suddenly changed, and the men would grope us without any provocation — and hard too! 

One of my travel-mates was especially shaken by the event, and said how for some unknown reason she’d actually felt as though she had done something wrong, even though her brain well knew that was not true.  She just felt such grief over the whole thing, and definitely invoked some of the rape cases we read in Criminal Law.

 As for me, I was just overwhelmed by fascination, just watching (and unfortunately, also physically experiencing) the men behave as animals.  Without regard for whatever they’d been taught in school, temple or home, we women were just sex objects for them to assault (you really can’t use the words fondle or even grope here, as it was such a violent and painful act).

It seemed odd that the men would behave this way considering how conservative Hindu culture is, and yet, sex is all around them too.  Indian television, particularly all the Bollywood videos, are just replete with sexuality; worse, Western women, in spite of India’s own sexualization of its own kind, are considered walking sex.  The whole experience really changed my vision of man-woman relations.  I don’t think I really understood what objectification and sexism meant until this experience, which I hear can be quite commonplace in various places across the Middle East too.  It’s a sad but true reality.

In spite of whatever discomforts I experienced in India – both socially and physically, I felt my personal horizons on the world and myself broadened drastically.  I’m not sure if I could have grown this much this fast but for the unique grand contrast and extreme experiences that is what it means to visit India.

So now I do understand what everyone else who have been to India meant when they just said it would be an experience I could only have before I could understand, and that there is just no way to explain it.  I understand why some friends were afraid I’d hate it.  But honestly, I want to go back! Let’s see if I can do some light trekking in the Himalayas in May…

Is It Time For The WUWU Talk?

When I came to HK jobless and homeless, it was a purposeful decision.  I often liken my time with NY and HK to a relationship – and like any young relationship, you don’t just jump into commitment right away or lightly.  Instead I rented a serviced apartment for a term of 3 months and enrolled in a 3-month language program.  This gave me the flexibility to “explore the relationship,” if you will and feel it out without attachments. 

By mid-October, after countless informational interviews with alumni, recruiters, other lawyers and professionals, I decided that I should throw my hat into the job market ring here and go for a full-time job.  I also faced a lot of emotional challenges, as I thought a lot about Mom and coped with an odd form of loneliness in what might be one of the most social cities in the world.  I applied to a decent handful of jobs, around a dozen or so, but with no success.  By the end of November, I really put no effort into the job hunt, as I was quickly winding down, having to pack up and get out of HK temporarily.

I signed up for another term at CUHK and agreed to sublet Vicky’s apartment come 2010, and here I am, staring the question in the face and wondering, “What’s Up With Us?” or WUWU, as my friend Jill termed it.  It’s that point in time where you take a pause to evaluate where your relationship is going, and whether or not it’s time to take it to that next level.  Perhaps it’s a bit premature to WUWU here since I don’t have a job that will allow me to stay longer, or even a job interview to speak of yet, but I noticed that I’d been a bit lax about getting on the job search I promised I’d commit 7 hours a week to in my New Year’s Resolutions.  Is it because I’m getting commitment-phobic?  

They say that in and around Chinese New Year, which is February 14 this year, is a good time for job hunting — mostly afterwards, since a lot of job turnover happens, with people collecting bonuses and leaving for new jobs.  I did notice a lot more jobs posted on JobsDB and eFinancialCareers, and should be ramping up efforts to find connections to help me submit applications, yet I was shy to.  I even have a friend over at JP Morgan urging me to get my resume to him, and yet I waited and waited and waited.  

Why? Am I having second thoughts, I wonder? 

I started asking some of my friends here as I begin to resettle into HK and am doing all the “catch up” dinners/drinks/lunches.  Whenever I mention it my friends tell me to please not be hasty about leaving and that at whatever point I think I’ve had enough, I need to add a few months more to my search.  Other friends have emailed me job info or been otherwise helpful in referring me to headhunters or whatever data I may need. And yet I kept being lazy.

Last week I finally submitted 3 job applications, as they had a deadline; then yesterday I sent out another 7 or so. As I do it, I realize that any of these could be it… and then the real WUWU talk would have to ensue…

Moreover, it’s beginning to look as though I can easily continue the term of my sublet past end of April.  But I wonder, is this right? 

When I think about going back to NY, I just don’t really see it as a real option with the U.S. economy still suffering as much as it is.  Unemployment in HK recently dipped under 5%, and I definitely see a lot of hiring going on all around me.  And when I was in NY over the break, I felt a depression take a hold of me that frightened me greatly.  Something about me and NY is not vibing right now, but is turning to the arms of HK right too?

My thinking is that if I cannot know in my heart that I want this, it may impact my energy and efforts at job-hunting.  I can’t seem to put my finger on these thoughts, but I think I just have to forge ahead and do my very best.  As they say in Chinese — jia you!

(yep… more contemplations ahead…)