5 months

Tibetan Sand Fox (Vulpes ferrilata)


I haven’t written in ages. That’s partly because I didn’t have the motivation to write, and partly because I wasn’t able to connect to blogger.com while I was in China.

When I first worked in Beijing back in 2002, I used to write often. I started blogging because my brother gave me a wonderful gift: my own domain name (www.minghon.com). I also had a lot more time (I had time to write while I was in the office!). The real reason though, is that I was constantly inspired.

Inspirations usually come from a variety of things: your experiences, your surroundings, the people around you, etc. Now looking back, I think two things in particular kept me inspired: 1, the beginning of my relationship with Sharon, my then-girl now-wife, and 2, Beijing/China.

Long story short, those two things prompted me to think more, and also provided me with topics and audience to debate and discuss these thoughts/observations. The new environment and the people also gave me abundant topics to think and talk about. I guess also Sharon, a natural thinker, also set me on the path towards constant thinking (since she reads this blog too … or I should say apart from … me, she is probably the only person on earth that reads this blog, I must choose my words carefully. Constant thinking … too much worries … overly trivial … oh I mean constant thinking).

Then I returned to HK, joined Nike, and got married.

man, this sounds like a sad story doesn’t it? You were free, inspired, brave, adventurous; you return home, back to what life should be, stay in the comfort zone, take the easy route, join a big company, and get married … the silhouettes of you and your wife, with a kid between the two of you, walking towards sunset ….

So today, 25th of May, 2008, marked the end of my short term assignment in Shanghai. This was the third time that I worked in China for a prolonged period of time. And this time, I felt very differently about my experience.

China has changed. This is a stupid statement but China has indeed changed. This was true for the standard stuff you hear and read about everyday: the city, the economy, the Olympics, yadayada. What struck me the most was the mentality of the Chinese people. With the growth in … everything, so did the ego and the inferiority complex of the people. In the past I used to think that people in China were curious and loving. I should have noticed back then but I didn’t think the chip on their shoulders would be transformed into the kind of “don’t tell me what i can do and I don’t need to listen to nobody and your comments are criticisms to me” inferiority complex x paranoia. Perhaps this was the difference between Shanghai and Beijing, but anyhow this realization, or whatever you might wanna call it, was a bit sad. I used to think that Chinese people were kind of cute, but not anymore. You can piss them off so easily, and man were they sensitive.

Anyway, then throughout the 5 months, I didn’t have much to do. My pace in life slowed down dramatically all of a sudden. Work wasn’t too demanding, and I usually had nothing to do at home. Then I realised my past 4 years had been exceptionally uninspiring. I only read a few books, I wasn’t interested in anything but … sneakers. And to be honest looking at the same sneaker news everyday wasn’t that intellectually challenging after like a day or two. I spent almost no time on catching up with friends, and 99% of my thoughts during a day involved trivial work related matters.

Then on the way back to Hong Kong, while on the plane, all of a sudden I had this urge to read. I felt like I haven’t read in years, and even reading the obituaries and the dullest advertisements for Universities in Dublin (do people really look for uni ads to pick their schools??) appeared ridiculously entertaining. I felt very inspired. I read through a few newspapers, the HBR (I told you I got all worked up reading the obituaries…), a very enjoyable Nick Hornby’s book, and a car magazine. I tried to understand why this sudden change happened. It was the same kind of flight, the person next to me was still not the super talkative hot sexy cute funny girl that finds me extremely interesting, they still only had that same flavor of ice cream … so i don’t think it was the circumstances on that particular flight. Instead I think it was a sudden feeling of relief, or a change of pace, or just simple realization of that fact that I was turning into a turd.

So anyway, all of a sudden sneakers looked like … just sneakers, and the rest of the world became so much more eventful. One thing I must say is that my wife has been nagging me about this as well. The way she did it, just like any other wives on earth i presume, was to pull out the dream vs reality threat (geez when I first met you I swear I thought you were tall!). Well, what she also did was to surround me with a crap load of stuff (her expensive bags and stilletos don’t count) Books, magazines (New Yorkers, Fortunes, Forbes, more New Yorkers that somehow always demanded me to buy for her when I traveled to the states), links (great tities inside! check them out honey!), DVDs (documentaries on soccer-shaped furballs called Pikas that got gobbled up by a square-faced tibetan foxes that have this i don’t really care look)…

I am fortunate that I still have this urge to be inspired, and that I have the things and people around me to keep me going. Life at my current job has been way too consuming and this strange little plane ride was a great knock on the door that there are many more bizarre yet utterly adorable things like this fox for us to explored, and to be inspired by.

Let’s see if I can keep this up.