Making New Friends
Before I begin seriously to count the days and as we continue to eat and drink, the first lunar month has slipped through. Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. In between, we witnessed Hong Kong successfully hosting the long and much awaited Marathon; after one cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic and a very much scaled down race with no overseas runners held in October 2021; on 12 February billed as the 25th Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, with close to 35,000 runners. The weather was not ideal for such an event, with showers in the morning, and it was hazy and humid at times. On our drive to Ricci Hall, we saw the runners herding through on the opposite carriage way and Su presently captured a few shots on her phone. We had planned to drive back to Mei Foo after Mass, but our journey was blocked by a huge traffic jam, partly due to redirected traffic caused by the Marathon and partly due to some traffic accidents, so that we decided to detour back to the Pokfulam direction intending to settle for a dim sum brunch at HKU, but finally settled at the Middle Island of ABC. The sky cleared up and we had some sun, so that we took a table under the sun and ordered some food for BBQ and so on and we spent a few hours eating and drinking, and interestingly, meeting some new friends, which I would come back later, but first, the report by Seymour Hersh.
Shortly after the series of bombings on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines commencing on 26 September 2022, some of my friends with well-connected sources and who were normally well informed, were convinced that the CIA had taken out the pipelines, based on circumstantial inferences. At the time, Russia and Putin had called it international terrorism and had asked the West questions, but nothing happened. Then on 9 February 2023. Seymour Hersh reported in New York Times that the United States had executed the covert sea operation, with so much details that a person with reasonable intelligence and integrity would find it difficult not to raise further questions and more specifically, not to question the personal involvement of Joe Biden, POTUS. The news item was on YouTube and my Rotary friends had sent me the clips by 6 am in the morning, complete with such intriguing details. TVB, our local news channel – Channel 83 – reported the Hersh story at its 7:30 pm Main News that same evening, with full credentials of Hersh as an American investigative journalist and political writer who gained prominence in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up, for which he was awarded the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. He also covered the Watergate scandal for the New York Times and is the author of 11 books related to Nixon and Kissinger. He is 85 and in a recent interview, he said he was not worried about his safety and so on and strongly suggested he was telling the truth to the world. But the White House and CIA flatly denied any US involvement in the bombings and some people had even attempted to orchestrate smear campaigns on Hersh. But perhaps the most incredible and remarkable thing has to be that none of the European and NATO countries had said a word on the saga and none of their leaders – including Germany which was among the most affected as far as energy supplies were concerned – had asked questions on why the pipelines were bombed, who did what and who should account for such acts. Furthermore, there were no reports in the Western media on the Hersh’s reports. As the war in Ukraine approached the first anniversary, we saw Biden making a surprise whirlwind visit to Ukraine and making deadpan remarks that Russia would never and would not be allowed to win the war. We would see. Biden had said in 2021 that the Taliban couldn’t and won’t take control of Afghanistan after the US troops withdrew from the country. Well, the whole world saw what happened afterwards, but hardly anyone made any attempt to hold him for what he had said. Such is the world we have found ourselves in; and the trend is unlikely to change.
Let me recall what else happened closer to home since I posted my last blog.
First, Su and I had a dinner on Valentine’s Day at our favourite club. We were pleasantly surprised to find the young couple whose membership we had sponsored. Then two days later, we went with two other friends to Shenzhen by the High-Speed train from West Kowloon. It took exactly 12 minutes from West Kowloon to Futian, though it took slightly longer to go through ticketing and customs, but it was smooth. The primary objective of the trip was to re-activate Su’s phone and bank accounts in China so that she could order taxi or uber over there. We returned the same day, Su and the two friends having achieved the objective and had an excellent lunch from Peter Kwan.
Back to ten days ago at Middle Island when something extraordinary happened to us, or to Su in particular, as a result of which Su became friends with a young lady after she did her a good turn. I would skip the details. Suffice it to say that the lady had invited more guests than the club rules allowed and was in distress when an over zealous waiter would not allow her party to use the club facilities until and unless two in her party left the island. Now, her party included three kids and a baby and it was logistically difficult to send them back. Su noticed the development and offered to take on two kids into our group, thereby obviating a potentially unpleasant situation for the young lady, with whom Su exchanged contact details. A few days later, the lady – Emily – texted Su and offered to have lunch with us yesterday at CRC. Emily came with her neighbour Margaret; and we had a great meal. She insisted to introduce her husband to us later; and we had met her daughter the other day. Su’s new made friend is an interesting character, but that would be another story.
Back to the present, which is the beginning of 2023 Lent. Lent is about prayers, alms giving and abstinence, as means to become closer to God through carrying out the duties we owe to God, to our neighbours, and to ourselves. I have a plan; but I would wait for at least a week before disclosing it.