Day #21

Conversation

The two-way with the world
This osmosis of thoughts
Hold the door for the toxin
Lest the good stays within

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

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Day #20

“Silently and serenely, one forgets all words,

Clearly and vividly, it appears before you.

When one realizes it, time has no limits.

When experienced, your surroundings come to life.”

 

Some forms of Chinese poetry, and some of their Japanese counterparts, always evoke a feeling of peace in me, which I have found on an RoI (Return-on-investment) basis, to be unparalleled. The poems also sound as if, at the time of their inception, the poet was riding high on some pure, premium quality Green Tea! I, myself, have dabbled previously in both, their poetry and their tea, but this time around in Hong Kong I decided to go all out and visit a traditional Tea House.

This one happened to be located inside the Nan Lian garden, itself a slice of paradise (comes highly recommended for anyone visiting HK). I was alone on that sweltering day, thirsty, looking for a place to rest. As I went in, an attendant came outside to help me out. As she walked me past the empty tables, I took in the sights and the sounds. The place was all wood, far as the eye could discern, dispersed carved panels depicting traditional Chinese people doing traditional Chinese things. The table tops were spic and span, well-polished; you could sense by looking at their design that there was more to them than met the eye. The absence of any other soul in the place made its presence felt. As I chose a seat and settled in, I could feel the masterful plucks of the erhu filling up the air around me. The sound was a heavy and all-encompassing fog, like the settling smoke on a cold winter night.

The server came along with the menu, and as I fished around my wallet to check my working capital, I decided I would go for “the experience” today. I lay my index finger on the top right corner and slid my way down, and settled once I found my drug. It was a Jin Fo Shou tea. A quick google told me that it was a rare form of high quality tea, whose name literally translates to “Golden Buddha Hand”, and which is cultivated exclusively on the below hill. Intrigued is an understatement.

The tea came in a tiny porcelain petri-dish, along with a manual on how to go about preparing it, the Chinese way. Thankfully, the server took pity, and walked me through the fascinating baby steps:

  1. Fill kettle with water from tableside tap
  2. Open secret compartment on table top and place kettle on mysterious looking boiler plate (I will, for now, assume this is the way it worked in ancient China too)
  3. Bring out three sets of cutlery:
    1. A mini teapot to let the tea soak in the goodness
    2. A slightly smaller buffer cup (nope, not autocorrected) whose purpose will be to hold the tea before distribution among various people at the table; this is done so that everyone gets to drink the _exact_ same thing as everyone else at the table. Details!
    3. And lastly, a tiny ceramic cup for your own self. Calling it a cup doesn’t somehow do it justice – let’s call it a “tea holder”
  4. “Warm up” all of these cups with the perfectly boiled water from the kettle (Oh yes, multi-tasking required. Focus, people. Focus!) And drain the liquid in a secret drain right in the middle of the damn table! Chinese old timers can put the Q07 pair to shame, I am sure.
  5. Now using a peculiar looking spatula (wooden, of course) slowly and carefully pass on the tea leaves into the teapot, and let the china from 4.1-4.3 do its job.
  6. As the slightly golden liquid finally reaches your holder, pinch the cup between your thumb and index, take in a whiff from the escaping vapors, taste a sip, and relax.

That tea was a mild conquest of the senses; not an attack mind you. The music, the wood, the *clinks* of the ceramic, the customs. The experience was calming, natural as if I had willingly surrendered my city to these invaders and accepted them as my own..

As I left after what seemed like a few hours, the sun had started its journey downwards, but I was comfortable at my zenith. As I sat down on the nearby wooden bench, my mind raced yet was in no hurry; it hammered out this little piece:

“As my eyes close

My senses open

They soak in the peace

Music flows between them

A sense of calm in the air

Flowing yet still

Bridging the divide

Between the thought and the mind”

 

(I could have sworn they added opioids in that tea, somehow!)

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

Day #17

Lately, the gods of hacking have been raining down upon us. (For the uninitiated) Now, I’m not pro-piracy per se, but admittedly, my morals were no match for this barrage of leaks. After all, we commonfolk have been having the time of our lives, what with all that help from the buffoons at HBO Spain too. Anyways, “through some medium”, I was lucky enough to witness first-hand a few episodes of the Game-of-destruction-of-HBO’s-reputation; and I was jubilant!

There is something about watching SMPTE color bars at the start of the show (Exhibit 1) along with a clock counting down in the corner of the screen, with a constant siren-like sound populating the background. It felt like an inside scoop! As if I was privy to some private, pre-release, VIP screening.

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Anywho, the episodes obviously are great, the storyline better than last season. But while I was going a bit gaga over the blossoming love story till now, I no longer feel the same after the last episode. Someone was feeling a hot streak coming after a long line of lucky escapes, eh? (this might be an unpopular opinion, but damnit, these saved-by-the-bells are happening waaay too often nowadays; less Game of Thrones, more Bold and the Beautiful)

But hey, who am I kidding with my whining about the plot? Next time there is a leak (or there isn’t) I’ll be right there with a huge empty bucket for my insatiable appetite. In fact, if nothing else, these leaks have also made life a bit difficult. Everything is in jeopardy now, as my routine is screwed. No more is it true, that every once a week, on a fixed day and a fixed time, that this junkie would get his fill. Now it is feels like some mild form of Chinese water torture. It could be a day, it could be ten. And if it’s the latter, it’s like the season finale syndrome all over again! :/

Now, walking that thin line between spoiler and smugness, I leave you with this image:

abc

Talk about being a good, f—ing recruiter! Poachers & headhunters, take out your pads & pencils!

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

Day #15

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

With worry in her eyes,

‘I haven’t given you permission to leave..’

With duty in his voice,

‘With respect, Your Grace, I don’t need your permission. I am a king (silence). And I came here, knowing that you could have your men behead me or your dragons burn me alive. I put my trust in you – a stranger. Because I knew it was the best chance for my people; for all our people. Now I’m asking you, to trust in a stranger. Because it’s our best chance’

Is this one of the finest love letters of medieval times, or what? (*.*)

Day #13

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

The dusk is visible in the leaping splashes of what used to be still water, but which I am now involved with in a dog-eat-dog race, as I put forth one arm after the other pushing back my enemy. Talk about savoring my first foray into a swimming pool in Hong Kong! I am going to squeeze a few paragraphs out of this –
yes, I am that happy about the whole deal.

Let me start with the pre-swim prep. After doing (unnecessary/obsessive) online research mining reviews on Hong Kong pools, I was a bit skeptical. Most forums would go on about public pools being crowded and so on. I feared a scenario like this:

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But hey, I am really geared up for the whole deal and how bad can the crowd really be? I am a veteran of the Dadar battlefield and have the scars to prove it. Plus, I mean its been almost 2 weeks since I last tasted chlorine; I rather miss it. All I really wanna do now is suit up and jump in. YOLO. (Well technically, not jump in. Since the pool is just 1.4 metres deep…)

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Anywho, desperation and good sense win over, but as I swipe my Octopus and enter the fairly large Kennedy Town Swimming Pool facility, my steps falter, unsure, as if testing the waters. I become conscious of the fact that I am probably the only Indian guy in the whole place at the moment. I begin consciously trying to be as invisible as possible, hoping to blend in, for some reason, with my predominantly Chinese brothers and sisters.

At the gates of the changing rooms, there is an odd sign which says, roughly, “Anyone above the height of 1.35 metres or older than 8 years old won’t be allowed in the changing room of the opposite sex”. It is one of those things which you know, deep down, that there is some backstory to it. One of the two conditions was surely an addendum and my bet is on the latter. There is absolutely no way, after all, that some tiny dude did _not_ misuse it at some point in the past, and prompted the law-makers to rethink things! 😀

Well, as I enter the men’s locker room, my efforts to “blend in” are rendered futile as I come across my first culture-shock. For the sake of civility, I shall not venture into details, but samajhdaar ko ishaara kaafi hai (A gesture is more than enough to the wise). Takes some time for my eyes to adjust to this new darkness. No one on any forum cared to mention this phenomenon, of course. Thanks, internet!

The first couple of laps are nice and slow, as I stop to smell the roses; not really counting the laps anymore, free/frog-styling, soaking in the warm water and the cool breeze, sighing with content after every lap. Boy, have I missed this. The pool is mildly warm and a little crowded, but reality is way better than expectation. After a few relaxing rounds, I get a little competitive with random strangers, setting arbitrary goals for beating them to the finish (always fun!).

I notice something peculiar after some time in the pool. There is a general lack of body hair on everyone! They have as much hair as would a skinned potato (Nothing wrong with it, of course) I feel like Anil Kapoor from the 90’s swimming among the people.

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Yeah, I know – Disturbing. Now you feel my exact mental state for the next few seconds after becoming conscious of the fact!

As my swimming session draws to an end, I have the pleasure to view the sunset from the quiet, open-air pool deck. As the Sun takes in a deep breath for its long dip in the far off depths of the ocean, it brings down the shutters on an almost perfect day…