General

Seven Years On

This is our third trip to Whistler this year, and by next Tuesday when we leave here for New York City and then Chicago, we would have stayed in our room at Whistler Hilton for some 45 nights, which by any standard would make us appear to be rather keen skiers or at least keen supporters of the Whistler economy.

We have never seen Whistler so warm and sunny. The mercury today registered as high as 21 degrees Celsius in the Village and 11 degrees in the alpine regions. Our instructor yesterday said, “This is spring skiing.” It is like summer. Shops are stop selling skiing equipment, but are putting out bikes and related tools. No trees in sight – those evergreens that are always snow capped in Christmas cards – are covered with snow, many rocks show up and everywhere is ice and grits. It is certainly much warmer than Hong Kong in the Easter week. It is so different from two weeks before when we left, when Whistler had recorded over 11 metres of snow for the season and when there were fresh powders everywhere in the mornings.

Such snow conditions had not however deterred the really keen skier from going to the mountains, which was what Su did today in the afternoon. She got so carried away though and I was about to organise a search party when she failed to show up more than an hour after the normal hours. She showed up ten minutes after my operation began, telling me that she had a great time, surveying both mountains and coming to the conclusion that Blackcomb did offer more runs on days like this, when there was no precipitation for a while, when temperature was rising and snow was melting fast in lower altitudes. She booked us lessons for the rest of our stay.

Very soon, we would need to take decisions on whether and how to take up the skiing programmes for 2017. It will be more than a question of economics and value for money. In committing to an extended skiing holiday, something will have to go along the way. We have met skiers of all shapes and forms on the slopes, all with different motivation and ambitions. When we told our instructors that this was our fifth season in a row and that we spent some six weeks each year in the last two years taking lessons, they invariably formed ideas about us and asked themselves why we were doing this. Typically, instructors would ask each student in the morning, before they started giving instructions, what each student hoped to achieve at the end of the day. Most students normally gave rather specific and polite replies, while we would invariably reply that we hoped to have an enjoyable time. We tried not to lie.

I went back to last year when we met this young couple who quitted their jobs and spent four to five months in Whistler on a tight budget so that they can become better and more competent skiers. They have since returned to their normal lives and secured jobs, and I wonder when they would come to Whistler to ski again. Most other skiers have come for holidays and for the Whistler experiences. There are not many people like us, spending time here year after years because we have a room here and because we are on retirement and can afford the time.

It is an enviable occupation to most people; and the only reason I bring this up for introspection is whether there are other occupations we can undertake, having regard to the economics and the circumstances we are facing. We have flagged this up as an agenda for discussion. The more practical problem is what other options are open, now that we seem to have established a routine that is workable and rather enjoyable.

Such is the nature of life for an average person, particularly when the person is not living alone. One does not take decisions by oneself alone. Somehow we have now lived together for nearly seven years. From episodes chronicled on Facebook, there were many happy and memorable moments. Our friends keep reminding us, to me in particular, how fortunate we have been. Granted that life is a box of assorted chocolates, and that there are good pieces and better pieces, one simply takes everything in a package. We both knew very little about what happened to each other in the years before we met, apart from the very broad outline. Oddly enough, but not surprisingly though, it is the fine details which transpired over the years that have shaped us separately and which have made either of us what we are today. Seven years in the equation becomes a fraction in that context. While time is essential for learning about one another, the understanding developed between people may not necessarily be a direct function of the length of time. I recall what I told my children beside their mother’s death bed that I was still trying hard to learn about their mother and I confessed at the time that I was a rather slow learner. I decided seven years ago to start afresh a new learning process in a brand new and different environment. I would not and could not say whether it was easier or more difficult. No two lives are alike. The one thing I have decided is to try to be a better husband, whatever it means and whatever it implies; and I am still trying.

On this optimistic note, I would sign off and I hope to talk to you agan soon.

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