General

Toronto Once More

We left Mei Foo in tearing haste for the airport Sunday morning. The evening before, we attended the 87th Birthday bash in honour of Rev Fr Alfred Deignan which was preceded by a mini concerto organized by four medical doctors, including the MC. But life had been more than hectic even before that, so much so that I missed my dental appointment the day before; which I only realized when I was looking into the mirror brushing my teeth in Toronto. Those of you who are familiar with the dental appointment system for retired civil servants would appreciate that dental appointments are not to be missed lightly.

I had been asked, and I had asked myself, why I appeared seemingly even busier during my retirement. My first-line response was that it was the wrong question. To start with, I had retired for more than ten years by now; and appearing busy is more of a perception compared with the real thing. True, there had been activities that with hind sight I could take up less often, but for every such activity, I could easily have taken up three to five more that I had decided not to take up. It is thus useful and therapeutic to find time to reflect on such matters every now and then, and what better time to do so than while sitting on a 14-hour flight lying on my back with no specific agenda.

Soon, and even before my first drink, it was movie time. Su and I caught up with the Oscar nominated films which we were too busy to watch in Hong Kong. She saw five and I, four; namely 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Phenomena and Captain Philips, in that order. I would not review each. Suffice it to say that I enjoy some more than others. In the past six to nine months, we had spared ourselves from watching TV sitcoms and tear jerkers, including the very popular Korean series about stars or someone coming from stars. Neither Su nor I had watched one episode of the stars saga; while our hosts in Toronto had downloaded and watched every single one and followed them through religiously. They said in an as a matter of fact manner that we are not from Hong Kong. We won’t blame them.

We arrived Toronto shortly after 1pm on Sunday as scheduled. It was bright and sunny, but -12 degrees, not counting windchill. Our friends picked us up and we went for a simple congee meal. In the afternoon, Su touched base with Annie, her principal maid of honour almost five years ago and we decided to have dinner together. It happened that it was Annie’s mother’s 85th birthday. We went to a rather nice boutique Chinese restaurant – Bali – which made rather tasty and wholesome Asian food. The restaurant was less than ten minutes drive from Village Gate Drive where I stayed everytime I was here since 2003. Diana came here with her husband and daughter 20 years ago. Since then, her daughter had married and given them two grandchildren which had made their hands rather full. Last night, Diana was talking about moving back to Hong Kong for various reasons; so this could be our last visit.

Diana noticed that I had shed some weight and I told her the regime I had been going through, adding that all these dinners planned in Toronto and Vancouver could interrupt my plans. Well, life is not only about staying healthy and keeping fit, it is just as important and vital to stay in touch with friends and families, which is why we are travelling across the globe. For a few decades, since the early Eighties, friends and relatives had been moving to Canada while many of them had since returned for various reasons. Looking back, I had picked up different friends and acquaintances every time I was here, but I had not developed a system to track their whereabouts. I used to rely on my desktop computer where I kept everything I thought I need to know or retrieve. Well, it crashed a few months ago without notice. I managed to seek help to retrieve most of the data files, but was unabe to retain most of the email exchanges where I thought I had been keeping the more useful information. I tried my level best, trying to re-establish contacts with the people whom I would love to meet and who woud find time to meet and greet me. So far, so good.

I am now a third into my sojourn in Toronto, and I have met among others, Stephen and Nancy, Angela, and all my surviving HKU classmates when we were undergrads. I have not met Stephen and Nancy in Toronto since 2003 and our last encounter – which they reminded me – was a fleeting meeting in 2006 over a cuppa. But we were so close and our children were so close. We met regularly from the late Sixties and continued meeting each other socially, as a family, and even at work, until they moved to Toronto in the Eighties or Nineties, I could not remember the exact time – it seemed so long so. It was the first time they met Su and I am so happy that they could relate to each other as if they had known each other for as long as I had known them.

I would be meeting my younger sister and her family before I left Toronto for New York later this week. I last met them here two years ago and I’d like to believe that we both enjoyed the meeting and are looking foward to this meeting. There are a few dinners and meetings lined up where I would meet old friends and some new ones. It would involve a lot of eating, some drinking perhaps and plenty of talking and catching up. As before, there would be no time for sight seeing. After all, Toronto is flat country with highways and roads between residential areas. We have not planned to visit Downtown; or do any shopping. While packing, we decided to leave our heavy cameras behind and travel lighter. But I am still available for emails and other communications. I hope to talk to you again soon.

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