Repenter Curls

My Dear Rotarians and Friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

This is another forgotten English phrase, meaning the long ringlets of a lady’s hair. You probably cannot find it in Longman Family Dictionary or Websters, but try Brewer. Repentir is the French for a penitentiary, and les repenties are the girls sent there for reformation. Now, Mary Magdalen is represented to have had such long hair that she wiped off her tears from the feet of Jesus. Hence Magdalen curls would mean the long hair of a Mary Magdalen made into ringlets.

My mind drifted to the curls because last Saturday 22 July is St. Mary Magdalen’s Day. Mary Magdalen is of course a patroness of repentant prostitutes. In materialistic Hong Kong where success is measured by material gains and possessions, little wonder why we seldom come across Mary Magdalens, in name or in substance. Once again, there are copious references in classic literature, drama or opera, in both East and West cultures, where the virtues of prostitutes are discussed and indeed exalted, not because of the fortunes and possessions they had amassed for themselves, but rather because of what they gave away selflessly to causes in which they believed. These fictional characters, some actually could be factional, could easily be put in the category of repentant prostitutes, but the moral of all these is clear. We as Rotarians should understand better than most how success should be measured; and if we were content to measure success by the conventional means, we could be a far cry from the repentant prostitute.

Last Saturday, Rotary Club of Macau Islands had their Installation Meeting. I had to disappoint President Kent Wong because I simply must attend the District Installation of the Lions Clubs International, District 303. I hope President Kent understand. I am sure he does and I wish he and his members had a great evening.

IPDG Dipo Sani, and PDG Anthony Hung and Mary were also at the Lions Installation. The Lions held the party in exactly the same venue we held our District Installation last month, except that they had more people attending and the evening was longer. Outgoing District Governor Edwin Yun spent most of the evening thanking his team and giving out prizes, while Incoming Governor Norman Tsui was everywhere. Some of the awards are rather innovative and worth copying. I talked to my hosts afterwards. Both sides agreed that Lions and Rotarians do things differently. It would be invidious to compare, but it is clear that both sides have strong points. Once again, we discussed opportunities for further co-operation and joint projects and we were hopeful that something could be worked out, in line with the spirit of RI President Frank Devlyn to partner with other organizations.

Last week also saw your District Governor kicking off the Official Visit Programme. The first club I visited officially was the Rotary Club of Hong Kong Bayview. This is a club well known for fellowship between members. I would go no further than this in this column. Suffice it to say that the warm camaraderie is very much evident during the visit.

I attended a few other Rotary Club meetings and functions last week. I would mention in particular, the Joint Secretaries’ Meeting last Tuesday, the first District Happy Hour last Friday, and the Installation Meeting of the Rotaract Club of Kingspark on Sunday.

I was surprised that not many Action Presidents were at the District Happy Hour last Friday. GPC Member Larry Parmanand started the very commendable initiative to provide an occasion for Rotarians and would-be Rotarians to meet in a strictly informal and casual atmosphere. He has already booked the venue for the next one, third Friday, 18 August, Kowloon Club, New World Office Tower. I urge you to mark your diary now.

The Kingspark Rotaract Handover Meeting meant a lot to me because I helped to set up this club and have watched it grow all these years. The club will always have a special place in my heart and I am not ashamed to admit it. It was great fun. These young men and women really know how to organize parties. Many Rotaract Clubs were represented at the meeting. It was full house at Stanford Hotel and some of the host club members had to eat outside.

At nearly every meeting and function, I was invariably asked whether I enjoyed the office of governorship, whether I was very busy, and how Rosita was coping with her illness. I could deal with the first two questions with ease and grace, but I suspect it will take me a while before I can be totally at ease with the third. I hasten to say that Rosita has been doing fine, or as fine as can be. This is quite a woman, and I am sorry you don’t get to see her as often or share her vision as much as we had expected, at least for the time being. Even though she cannot be with you, her heart is very much with Rotary and she is up to speed with what is happening, including the Budget and all that. It seems that I am the one who would find needs of Magdalen curls if I could grow one.

Talk to you soon.

John Wan

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