Even as I was uploading the last piece, a few thoughts arose, primarily from the parties or events I went to recently, and by inference, the groups with which I have been associated, which was the theme I brought up towards the end. Let me begin with the first day of this month.
It happened to be the first Wednesday of the month on which day the brotherhood – of which I am a member – would have a lunch; no invitation, no obligation, no reminder and no agenda; and people simply turn up or run the risk of being lost on the radar screen. It’s interesting and comforting (to me at least) that as more young men join the fellowship, attendance at the monthly lunch is growing which gives me added incentives to be there. And let me go straight to the point – for some time now, I am making time to be with younger people so that I may have a chance of being looked after rather than continue to babysit others. It was a great lunch and I felt good afterwards as I took a train home for a nap to prepare for a dinner meeting with the class of 1965, the year I did time to prepare for my matriculation.
Five men including me turned up for dinner at a Chaozhou restaurant in Wanchai close to the MTR. Somehow, I was the youngest. There was this banker who booked the place, a real gentleman and friendly guy and whose brothers and nephews I have come to know without him knowing. He is so relaxed with life which apparently has been kind to him and he has five or six grandchildren with whom he maintains regular and happy liaison. There is this retired civil servant from Education Department, but who continues working as a volunteer full time on education projects, but who unfortunately had a bad fall a few months ago and under the herbalist’s instructions was in strict and uninteresting diet. There is an architect friend who is still working but who has rather fixed views on how the world operates and who is very sure of himself. Then there is this businessman who has worked in Shanghai for over 20 years unplanned and who can’t speak Shanghainese. He has decided to move back to Hong Kong to retire and now lives in Ma Wan. Conversation was rife and extremely rich and juicy, covering all aspects of life in the region and parts of the world. We decided to meet more frequently henceforth, but so far, no plans are forthcoming. Not yet. End of Day One.
Day Two is Thursday on which day I have a standing lunch with a group of ex-colleagues. KK has been the organizer, a very resourceful and effective one. The gatherings are always jovial, pleasant and happy, and rather importantly, food is always good and cheap. These sessions are effectively information and skill exchange sessions; and very importantly, they are therapeutic. In the evening, I had an invitation to an AGM of a professional association in its 25th year. The President is a young lady who is a very good friend through my HKU Convocation days. I met quite a few friends, young and ancient, new and old; and I found out that the cocktail decorum and protocol hasn’t changed a lot all these years. End of Day Two.
Day Three is First Friday on the Catholic Church Calendar and for some years, the Ricci Morning Mass community would have breakfast with the celebrants after Mass. Discussions over breakfast were primarily conversational, and topics touched on tended to be mundane, trite and superficial, but I treasure these monthly meetings somehow. After lunch, I joined Su for our weekly Latin dance class. It was uneventful even though our instructor was as energetic and supportive as ever, though somewhat enigmatic at times. We decided to spend the evening quietly in preparation for an expected busy weekend.
Day Four began with a trip to Sandy Bay for the annual fair of Duchess of Kent Children Hospital of which I am Secretary on the Executive Committee. The place was full of people and I ran into many old and new faces, for I have been associated with the charity for some time now. After the Fair, I joined Su for the lunch with the standing lunch mates at this time of the week, comprising mainly the Class of 1963, whom I had referred to in my columns before. Suffice it to say that the proceedings are very much predictable and among the men I am the youngest, normally. It seems that friends who grow up together would not look forward to surprises by their mid-seventies, or maybe they enjoy some routines too much. We adjourned to the coffee and whiskey session in the usual place, joined by an expected unexpected classmate of the same vintage and rehearse the similar routines. It was then time to go to another AGM, the second in three days, this time, the 24th Anniversary Dinner of a residential hall of HKU which had been wound up for as many years. As the Vice President, I was expected to be there; and since Su also knows a few people there, she too joined me for the party. Once again, we met so many familiar faces, including someone I haven’t met for ages. The highlight of the evening was to be a talk by the chairman of a top local real estate concern, in which he shared with his audience his views on the state of the local market in the wake of rapid and dramatic development in the economic and political scenes in the Mainland. There were the usual questions from the floor afterwards, but none could match the one raised by Su on how the speaker managed to maintain his body and mind in such tip top conditions. Su was pleased with his answer which in effect suggests that while one should learn to listen to the body, one should also take in what one likes too. End of Day Four.
I can go on, but I would hate to turn this into my diary or a catalogue of events, but maybe I would simply highlight a few here to which both Su and I had gone this month, including the 15th Anniversary of the HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies, co-organized by the Alumni Association, of which I had been Chairman for a few years, which featured a rather expensive vegetarian menu; a wedding dinner of a young couple – the groom being a member of my Rotary Club – in a top hotel in the Elements area; a reunion dinner with some HKU friends; the admission ceremony of one of my mentee to the Hong Kong Court followed by lunch, which was followed by yet another lunch; a ballet in Hong Kong Cultural Centre featuring some top notched dancers from Mainland China; and tonight, we would go to another dinner organized by yet another alumni body of HKU.
I wonder whether the sort of retirement life I have been living with Su – always moving, sometimes expensive and often interesting, but sometimes punishing and tiring – is conducive to giving the body and mind sufficient rest for other activities that I have been expecting since my formal retirement 14 years ago. I would stop here to prepare for my regular lunch; and I hope to talk to you soon.