Thursday, 1 December 2011

Grazes, fate and a little fashion

As I flew through the air about to land on my face on Bowen road in the dark, all I could think about (other than how to land without smashing my engagement ring in half) was how I was going to piece myself together before a 20 hour flight to Washington.

As I shakily stood up and felt a surge of nausea at the site of gravel-blood curdle all over my body, I couldn't have felt much more sorry for myself, and held back tears as I noted that T had just gone to Boracay to kite surf and my parents who had been visiting had also just left.

Of course, the tears came as soon as the cab driver asked me if I was ok. He passed me tissues (taking his eye completely off the road as he pressed the accelerator) and told me everything would be fine, especially as I obviously was already fine given I could afford to live on Caine road. Interesting logic there.

I dragged myself up home, feeling increasingly sorry for myself, and wondering how on earth I was going to pull myself together. All on my own. This was the first time I wished the doorman was there, so I could give him a full tour of my grazes and an opinion on what to do next.

The lift door opened and there she was. Mum. Enormous sunglasses and panama hat on at 9pm, waiting at the door. Her travel agent had gotten the days mixed up for her flight home. So there she stood; comfort, love, hospital (and a little fashion) all in one. It's in moments like these that you wonder if there is, in fact, a Master Plan.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Occupy Pilates

Unlike any other sport I've dabbled in, I must say I really enjoy pilates. I look forward to my weekly sessions, where I get to sway back and forth on the "reformer", to the voice of the instructor: 1-2-3 puuuush.

I particularly enjoy the fact that the studio I go to is so small and tucked away in Wan Chai. I know nobody there, and appreciate the freedom anonymity and two hours of peaceful meditative exercise does to my general mental and physical health.

Not for long, though. Last week, as I unsuspectingly squeaked out of my class on my slip-proof 5-toe socks, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a French Banker Congregation. Only they'd swapped their Westins and blue suits for aforementioned socks and graying shorts (thank goodness they spared me leggings).

It took me a very long half-a-second to register that a) this is the first time I've seen that many men here and b) I don't think I've ever seen T's friends standing around in socks (have I already mentioned the toes?) and shorts before. It felt like a bit of an Allie McBeal moment, when she imagines all the lawyers naked in the court room, only there was no waking up from this daydream/nightmare.

Turns out that T has been promoting the wonders of pilates at Le Banque, claiming that it can cure back ache and get rid of paunches in 10 sessions. The fact that T has never actually been to a pilates class and has no intention of ever doing so, is something that this loyal fan base seem to have generously overlooked. Sigh.

I'm considering getting a facial next week. I hope to goodness I don't have to sit anywhere next to a bunch of traders with cucumbers on their eyelids. I couldn't take it.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Weekend escape

Since I've spent more time on the road for work that I have at home, T and I decided to take some "quality time" and head off to Cebu in the Philippines for the weekend.

Now, not very originally, we've always fancied ourselves to be not-resort-people. I generally prefer being on a boat and T historically preferred sharing his room with creatures that scuttle around in the night. I've since corrupted him into going to hotels with hot water - but we've never stooped so low as a resort.

It was fantastic.

We spent two blissful days in the Shangri-La, snorkelling, sun bathing and doubling up on Pina Coladas at Happy Hour.

Sunrise ..ish

Working on looking like an Umpa Lumpa. By the way, you hardly have to snorkel as the tropical fish are in one foot of water

Pic taken with Pina Colada goggles


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Auckland in Pictures

I just got back from Auckland. Gosh it's far! Thank goodness for work's business class policy. Love Cathay Pacific business class. Where else do you get a choccie before you roll over onto-your-stomach to go to sleep?

Anyway, it was "spring" in Auckland, which meant the first thing I had to do when I arrived was buy an enormous scarf, which sort of doubled as a blanket. I also had to buy stockings, which in the mall I found myself in, were only available in XXL and called "busy legs". I could write an entire post on buying stockings in new cities. The amount of times I've assumed I could go with bare legs and then found the city to be having "unusually cold weather" is unbelievable. And somehow I never find myself in front of a Wolford or M&S..but always some backwater shop where the nickers only come in nude colours and the stockings give me flashbacks of my grandmother putting-on-her-legs for work.

Busy Legs - couldn't ladder even if you tried. Spent a day with them pulled up to my armpits. Note to self: always keeps stockings in suitcase in case weather gets nasty

Weather aside, Auckland was wonderful. It was rugby week as well (three days before the All Blacks nearly lost to France actually) so there was plenty to do....

Drink my favorite drink on earth ever

Eat fresh fish any way you care to think of. Wash it down with a loaf of piping hot bread and a bottle of Pinot from Central Otago

Drool over super yachts and wonder how many ponzi schemes you'll need to get one

Go to Taste gourmet food show and eat all the free samples. Bring some back for the French contingent to pull their nose up at

Drink some more and decorate your own wine bottle - personalisation at its drunkest

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Picking a side

So we watched the rugby today. And we won. We being France. Tomorrow I hope we win again. We being South Africa. Pity Spain isn't playing.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Quintessentially annoying

As I sat on the plane to Tokyo, I was feeling rather chuffed at having pulled my nose up at the thought of reading Vogue and Marie Claire and having decided to exercise my braincells with the FT Weekend. But now I find I'm regretting that decision.

If I read one more article on the wonders of Quintessentially concierge services for the uber rich and uber unimaginative, I just might throw up. Somewhere in the business section was a whole piece on this magnificant business that stores and transports your clothes around the world depending on where you are. They'll also store and organise your Hermes bag collection in chronological order. I mean, seriously, how old do you have to be to have enough Hermes bags and, over enough time, that they need to be chronologised?

So now, as I slap the paper down, exasperated at yet another article where the journalist is "quite exhausted" from so many gallery openings and has "just had to" slip into a spa for four days, (as she's on the "brink of burnout" from "high octane socialising") to get her chakras aligned before continuing, I'm wondering if I should hassle the air hostess for a People magazine.

I must say, that in the midst of all this waffle, I found the interview with the prize-winning novelist, Magnus Mills to be rather refreshing.

FT Question: When do you feel most free?

Magnus Mills: When I'm walking home from the swimming pool

That's better.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Finding a wedding dress in HK - Part I

Best of a bad bunch - the curtain effect

Finding a wedding dress in Hong Kong is challenging to say the least. So challenging, in fact, that it took me four months to find one. Not only do the bridal shops simply not stock anything you could vaguely ever imagine yourself in, but they make it virtually impossible for you to actually try and choose one.

Whether you go to Weddings in Central or Lusan Mandongus (not the most consumer-friendly name) or Designer Bridalroom, you will find that as long as you are looking for a large meringue of a dress, or something to star in a Disney musical with, you'll be sorted. If, you poor soul, you're actually looking for something a little smoother, and sleeker (read "boring" in Hong Kong shop attendant's minds) you're pretty much stuck.

To make matters harder, there's also absolutely no transparency about what dresses shops actually carry. So, you go on their website and think "ah voondabah, they have Pronovias" only to find to your dissapointment that they only have two Pronovias dresses, and not the two you like. But then you'll get convinced on the phone they they-have-something-very-similar-by-another-brand-so-how-about-coming-in-to-try? Then, once you arrive at the shop, they'll give you a pile of glossy bridal books filled with all the fantastic designers they carry, which you'll go through with great care and attention and choose the dresses you want to try, after which the sales assistant will let you know that they carry absolutely none of your choices. Perfect.

The other thing is that Hong Kong wedding shops assume that you're going to run off and have their dresses copied by a tailor in an alley for a quarter of the price. So, in order to stop brides-to-be from stealing their designs, wedding shops don't allow you to take any pictures. At all. To the point that they "help you" with your dress in the changing room in case you decide to take a clandestine shot. I can tell you that even if I had planned to have the latest Vera Wang dress ripped off, a photograph of me taken in a dimly lit bridal salon wouldn't exactly cut it.

You can probably imagine that none of this is very helpful when your mother and most trusted friends all live on another continent, and can't exactly help you choose your dress with telephone descriptions such as "well, it's long, and white and has sort of drapy bits that float over your I don't have a picture...yes, I'll ask."

Some wedding shops also charge you to try on their dresses. Non refundable. Yep. 5000HKD (500 Euros) to try on three dresses. No, you're not allowed to try on more than three. But here I'm rather pleased to say I was able to find a loophole. As the fee is for trying on three dresses, I found that if I asked to try on only two dresses, then they couldn't find a reason to charge me. Ha! Life's little wins.

Of course, the inevitable and naive thought that comes to every bride-to-be's exhausted mind is, "Ah, I'm in China. The land of silk and sewing. Why don't I just get one made?!" Been there. And back. To cut a long story short, I'll just pose the question: how are you supposed to choose the fabric of your wedding dress based on a sample of cloth the size of your thumbnail? Need I go further?

p.s. Some good things, in case some of you are actually referring to this post for useful information:
- Peeps at Mariee don't have a fee to try on... at least not that I know of...they have some floaty numbers that are less stiff than the usual selection
-Joyce let's you try on their somewhat weathered Vera Wangs if you go to the back and smile a lot
-Hitched was incredibly helpful and have some cool retro dresses
-The WeddingShop has Jenny Packham which can sometimes give the illusion of hope. And other times not
-Blush had some possibilities and their short dresses and bridesmaid dresses were very pretty I thought

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hong Kong on a clear day

It's on days like these that I really appreciate living in Hong Kong, and why I sometimes feel quite smug about coming back here after the holidays rather than somewhere a little colder...and damper..

Hong Kong with boat

Star Ferry making its way back from Tsim Sham Shui to Hong Kong

The odd surviving relic from the Victorians
Note the HSBC building behind which was built by Foster (Sir) and famous for its incredible detail to Feng Shui. My favorite part is that it's been built on our very own dragon's lair and so has a gap beneath it which has been specially designed for the dragon to sleep under it, and also to fly through.
Someone told me that at a party don't check my sources...

The Bay. Take that, SF

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The art of traveling with a hat

Our wedding was followed almost immediately by another wedding. And this wedding required a hat. Having decided to take on this challenge, I considered buying one (preferably disposable given our enormous apartment) in Hong Kong but couldn't face traveling half way across the globe to Rome and then Athens and then to Paros to Paris to Lyon to Pierrelatte with a flying saucer under my arm (in addition to a wedding dress and everything else one could need-for-ones-own-wedding).

That said, my friend Ms. TT wisely noted that it's perfectly easy to travel with a hat as long as you have a) a hat box and b) a gentleman to carry it. So I then knew that once I got round to getting a hat I would be pretty much sorted as long as I had a hat box. Thanks T.

I decided to wait until we got to Paris to seek out head gear. With our train leaving at 5pm, and all the French time needed for petit dejeuner, dejeuner and chatting (read sucking up) with the concierge, that left us with about an hour to find me something suitable that didn't make me look like a scarecrow. I also knew I would need a hat box, if I were to follow Ms. TT's advice and be able to travel in comfort and style.
Surprisingly, I found a hat pretty easily at what seemed to be the hat shop in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. I say that only because the owner and shop assistant were so incredibly bossy and affirmative in their opinions, that I could only consider them to be world renowned experts.

So once they'd decided on my hat, I then looked the owner in the eye and said, "Now I need a hat box."
She pursed her bright red lips and said, "No. You don't."
I stood a little taller (remembering to keep my shoulders back) and said, "No, really. I need it to travel." I couldn't believe that I needed to explain the basics to these hat masters. Tsk.
She shook her head and looked at me with scrutiny, "You only ave one hat, so you don't need a hat box." she shrugs, "If you ad many hats, then you would need a hat box. You don't. So you can carry it in a bag." She looked down at me again (even though she was half my size) and pursed her lips further, obviously thinking disapprovingly that il est evident que vous n'avez jamais eu de chapeaux de Rolls Royce ou d'amants celebres.

So, there I was, with a hat the size of a brass cymbol stuffed into a paper bag, and my dreams of T gallantly chaperoning me with a hat box squashed forever.

Note that me forgetting it on the train 3 hours later and T having to run after it and then sprint to the next station to pick it up before the SNCF closed forever is clearly a detail which reinforces Ms. TT's advice that you can really only travel with a hat if you have a) a hat box and b) a [fast] gentleman to carry [rescue] it. Ca c'est clair.

Mr and Mrs T

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Off getting married

(yes, as in sailing, dolmades and a shaky economy)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

And how would you like that tied?

Given Etsy's massive success, clearly we are all heavily into handicrafts and, if we haven't already, are about to convert our second bedrooms into workshops from which to build our hand made empires. Needless to say, my interest in this area has been cool, at best, until last week, when I took myself over to Sham Shui Po.

Sham Shui Po has been recommended to me on numerous occasions as THE place-to-buy-anything-to-tie-pin-and-decorate-with. So, as I needed wedding supplies, off I went. As I sat on the metro as it worked its way into Kowloon I imagined I would find myself in one of those markets where each stall sells exactly the same thing, only at different prices. Wrong. This place is essentially like any neighborhood, you know....roads and shops and things, with not much sign of a market as such. It was of course at this point (the point where I see there's no market) that I realise I don't actually know where I am going. So I just wander around past hundreds of cheapo crapo clothes shops selling things like this...

Never quite seen it put that way...

Tastefully selected and meticulously colour coded

And just as I was about to give up, the shops suddenly changed into bead, button, zip and ribbon shops. Hundreds of them. And each and every one of them completely different from the previous one. So, you would think well-how-many-different-types-of-ribbon-can-there-be well, think that anything you can put on a ribbon wheel, is technically ribbon.

String-like ribbon (accessories above also for sale)

Basking Zips

Boas on wheels

Shiny-tacky-Hello Kitty-Lolita-Printable ribbon

Lace (Take that Villa do Conde)

And then there were flower accessories, buttons, beads in the same sort of quantity and variety as above.

Wouldn't Project Runway be so much more fun....?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Return of the haggler

Being foreign sometimes has its serious disadvantages. The biggest one of them all is being perpetually ripped off. All the time. It becomes exhausting paying NYC prices in HK! The thing is, I imagine some people don't even know they're getting ripped off, while I have the blessing (or curse) of local colleagues who tell me before I embark on any purchase - but mostly after - exactly what the price ceiling is. Invariably, I am charged triple the price ceiling -if I'm lucky - and no amount of coaxing will bring it down.

And yes, I know I've written about this before, when I was looking for that bloody cupboard, but I've somehow managed to steer clear of any major bargaining situations over the past year. Probably because I've been limiting my purchases to Park 'n Shop, clothes shops with printed price tags and Starbucks. But I always knew that I was only one off-piste purchase away from being seriously and unfairly overcharged. (I consider Starbucks to be fair overcharging as they don't discriminate).

Just the other day, I called up the A/C cleaning crew to come and wipe down two average size, common all garden A/C machines. Before calling them, I did my usual survey with the colleagues to see how much it should cost. In Barcelona, if we'd had air conditioners, it would have cost, say, about 30 Euros. My colleagues guessed around 400HKD. Well, I was quoted ..wait for it ...2000HKD! And when I told them I would pay 400, the guy on the phone sheepishly said his boss wouldn't go lower than the original price, and that was final. So there I am, a blonde stuck between a rock and a hard place, and no A/C... so I coughed.

Yesterday I had the exact same problem with ribbon. I went to buy ribbon, as any good self-respecting -soon-to-be-bride does, and was warned in advance by my squad not to pay more than some tiny amount. Of course, I was quoted ten times that price, and even after I plonked the ribbon back in the pile, pretended to walk away and shook my head saying "too expensive! to expensive!", the stall keeper (yes, we're talking about a market stall here) just shrugged and walked off to chat to her buddy at the hanging-knicker stall next door.

Now, as I sit under the one A/C that works - yes the other one never quite got fixed - probably clogged with dollar bills - I'm feeling quite sorry for myself, and thinking some sort of "Local Personal Shopper" agency is just what I need right now. Some sort of ribbon bargaining specialist or something.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wedding guest outfits in HK

I had to go shopping this weekend for an outfit to wear to T's best friend's wedding. As usual when it comes to Hong Kong, it's almost impossible to know where to start looking to buy anything. Hats? ummm...A pretty dress that's not some randomly selected Stella Mcartney drape or a skin tight Herver Leger bandage in shocking pink? eeerrmm... Shoes that fit..ummm.

Well, Google and my hairdresser (two excellent sources for most things) recommended a few places, which I must say were pleasantly surprising all round.

Hats and elaborate fascinators can be found at Hatwoman. Not cheap (much of my debate was around whether I should get a new dress or buy a hat), but fun to try and maybe worth splashing out on if you feel your entire outfit would be a flop if you weren't wearing a special little something on your beautiful head.

Fascinators for the fabulous

Dresses can be found at Diane Von Furstenburg. Not new news? No. But so obvious you might have missed it.

Spotted this in the DVF shop in Landmark building this weekend on sale and thought it might work rather nicely for a summer wedding

Other dresses can be found at Love It, where Katherine, who runs the show, will specially order outfits to suit whatever you're looking for - and your body type. She puts you on her mailing list and then lets you know what she's found for you before it hits the shop floor. I've yet to see what she gets in, so fingers crossed on this one. But she seemed pretty sensible, as she rightfully disapproved of a saggy number I tried, spotted that I was wearing an ancient bra as my boobs must have been all over the place and then sent me home empty handed saying, "I'll call you when I have what you need." Breath of fresh air.

Shoes. Ahh shoes. The bane of my existence. I got a pair custom made at DYOS (Which stands for Design-Your-Own-Shoes). They take "mass customization" to its best by giving you a number of shoe shapes, sizes, widths, heel heights, leathers (I chose kid..moment of silence), colour etc. Outcome hasn't been delivered yet, as they take 6 weeks to make, so definitely not the place to do any impulse or last minute shopping.

Pick a shoe. Any shoe.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Dr. Crackling

I woke up the other night with the most terrible crick in my neck and, after a sleepless night, staring at the ceiling and moaning every time my head moved, I went to work armed with my box of Panadol Muscle Relief. My team took one look at me and ordered me to a)stop-taking-pointless-drugs and b)to go immediately to Mr. M who's known-as-the-crackling-doctor.

It was a particularly rainy, miserable day and so I very reluctantly headed off to Wan Chai to find this Crackling Doctor. I squelched upstairs and into Mr. M's clinic (read: one-bedroom-flat-with-two-hospital beds, a TV-and-a-wooden stool). There stood a rather ancient Chinese man in a white coat who took one look at me, asked me a few critical questions and with a perfunctory nod, pointed me towards the bed, where I guessed I had to take my shoes off etc. Bed side manner not a strong point here.

First of all, he tenderised the area in question with some acupuncture for 20 minutes. After what felt like an eternity, face down, listening to the TV and hearing him potter around, he pulls out the needles (no pain), and then proceeds with the "massage".

If there were an instruction manual, this is what it might read:

- Put on boxing gloves
- Punch patient (read victim) in head and neck. Aim every so often right on the most unbearably painful and tight bit. Do so with urgency and quick, erratic movements
- Remove gloves and vigorously pinch patient on neck. Punch shoulders
- Dive down onto legs and without stopping for air, grab opposite leg to where you are standing and rock patient's entire body (with feeling), rock until patient looks like she's about to roll off bed
- Repeat with other leg
- While patient is still shaking, imagine yourself bouncing back against wrestling ring ropes (think WWF), as you jump on patient and CRACK the side of her neck. Repeat with other side after shaking patient's head and forcing it to look the other way
- Use metaphorical ring ropes again to jump and CRACK shoulders
- Shake and pull both arms with violent insistence
- CRACK clavicular
- Flip patient over and repeat

If patient blubs like a baby. Ignore. This is a normal release of tension, emotion and sometimes fear.

Patient, by the way, left completely cured. Before leaving, patient asked him when how she would know if the crick was really cured. He replied, "Move your head from side to side if it still hurts after three days, come back." Sensible.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Cook your way thin

So I've started cooking again. This has been driven mainly by the fact that I can't bear the thought of another butternut squash soup with steamed broccoli dinner. Food rut, anyone?

Also, in an attempt to move from being slim to becoming a waif (bride-in-a-bikini-mission), I've been dipping into the "French Women Don't Get Fat" book, which is the most pretentious piece of food writing I've ever read - how can she write that one of French women's greatest assets is they know how to laugh? Inaccurate at best. That said, it certainly motivated me to get my head around some on piste recipes aimed to shrink my bum while at the same time ticking off the pleasure value box.

My source? Idiot proof recipes which only use basic fresh ingredients (no running around looking for marjoram required) and reviewed by 100s of French women who spend their life cooking, eating and managing to stay inside their skinny jeans. P.s. Google translate will get you through this should you need it.

They have a section called "Get thin!" . None of this "be your best self" or "healthy living" BS you get in the States. I think this would go down rather well in Hong Kong, where people are more than a little frank about each other's size. Last week one of my Honkie colleagues saw a photo of another colleague who she hadn't actually ever met in person, and called her up to inform her that she hadn't expected her to be so fat, and how about laying off the sweeties?! Note that the other colleague is American. Global team building at its best.

Anyway, here's a dish I made this week, which went down rather well and which even a blindfolded monkey could pull off:

Ingredients per person:
2 pieces of filo pastry (go down to City Super and buy it)
1 tomato sliced
1 slice cooked ham roughly ripped
1 slice of goat's cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

Calories: 290 (if you're stingy on the cheese)
Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes (from walking in the door with bags to serving)

Here's the trick that changes this dish from being a blt samousa to being vraiment gourmande:

Get your two sheets of filo pastry and rummage around your kitchen for a ramekin or small bowl. Put the filo sheets (one at a time) inside the ramekin, so you've created a little pocket. Then put all the ingredients in the pocket and close the filo pastry around it. Seal it and then flip. So now it looks like a large round of camembert. So pretty and almost El Buli-ish in the art of disguise. Marmiton has a vid on this.

Stick in oven at 200c for 20 minutes. Serve with leaves and vinagrette.

Future wife ranking spikes upon serving.

Friday, 17 June 2011

La petite caravane

Children's fashion seems to have given up on trying to target children, and has decided it's quicker and easier just to make slutty adult clothes in smaller sizes. Everywhere you go in the world (especially the Anglo Saxon one), children are neatly tucked and folded in their school uniforms during the week, but then look like miniature Usher's and Britney Spears' on the weekend. Even little Suri Cruise, who everyone fawns over, wears miniature high heels.

I've looked around for children's clothes on a few occasions to buy presents, only to despair at the selection of "Juicy Couture" mini flannel tracksuits with matching gold purses. What ever happened to being allowed to be just children?! It's not surprising that they're all pregnant by 11.

Anyway, last week I found a ray of hope.

My friend Thuy-Tien has recently started up her own children's clothing company (La Petite Caravane), making clothes for 0 - 5 year olds, and they're the sweetest things ever. I went to one of her trunk shows the other day, and thought the vintage-inspired collection was such a welcome change to children's fashion.

Here are some pics.

Oh so cute little dresses for whimsical afternoons in the park

No you can't have the car or the push bike

More sweetness

In addition to saving your child from early teenage motherhood and an addiction to computer games - yes, dressing your child in sweeter clothes must make them sweeter, surely? - Thuy-Tien also donates 10% of the price of each item to Room to Read.

Win win all round I'd say.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

I love dog

People in Hong Kong are obsessed with fluffy dogs. It's really rather odd to see pom poms walking down the street in 30 degree weather, with 90% humidity. I honestly don't know how their owners can keep a straight face.

Today I spotted a few getting poofed up at the pet salon:

Trimming the frizz

Waiting our turn

Just another day in Dogotel (note the trademark) where they love dog

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bouncy bouncy music

Justin Bieber - for you NYT readers

T is pretty much THE man when it comes to music around here. He plays more guitars than I care to mention and is an avid reader Les Inrockutibles, which I encourage by renewing his subscription every Christmas. Anyone who comes to our house would say that there's generally a pretty eclectic mix of music playing at all times - from Elliot Smith to Guns n Roses to Serge Gansbourg (who I still haven't quite figured out how he ever got so popular).

I, on the other hand, don't listen to anything. I don't own an ipod and I welcome silence at the best of times. I find music to be distracting, and it will often give me a headache if I'm trying to do anything other than focus all my attention on it.

So yesterday as T and I were watching a Justin Bieber documentary (as one does), I started absent mindedly singing along to all songs. Admittedly, the lyrics aren't rocket science - anyone heard "U Smile"?. But still. Afterwards I went onto YouTube and sung along to Rihanna (Only girl in the world), Lady Gaga (Poker face) and Beyonce (Put a ring on it).

T just sat there with his mouth hanging open. How on earth did I know all these songs when a) I don't listen to music. Ever. b) I don't hear them at home either - T's frame of reference doesn't encompass trashy chart hits. Much like a New York Times reader doesn't know anything about Jersey Shore.

After discarting the double life theory, the answer is simple: E Hollywood True Story in hotel rooms and Cathay Pacific Pop Documentaries. Turns out I'm a pop chart groupie. Tsk.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Paris in the spring time

T's one big achievement this week has been getting me to fall in love with Paris. Like all contrary people, I've never been a fan of Paris. I think New Yorkers put me off it, they always ooh and aah about it and gush about how romantic it is. Whatever.

Anyway, as I sit here in Hong Kong again, with my 3 extra kilos kindly donated by the French Gormande Face Stuffing Association and a sun tan from lying around in Place de Vosges and Luxembourg Gardens, I can safely say that I'm now Paris's biggest fan.

A year in Hong Kong has now made me appreciate those things about Paris that I'd always taken for granted:

- Politess - People saying "bonjour" when they get on the bus. Yes, believe it or not, Parisians all greet the bus driver. Hongkies...erm...not so much.

- La Bouffe - The food in Paris is good absolutely everywhere you go. From croissants to Nicoise salad, it's all delicious. In Hong Kong, although food is generally ok, I find the cheaper places a little too rough around the edges for my liking (chicken claw on dirty plate, anyone?).

-Beute - Without wanting to state the obvious, Parisian architecture, shop windows, people, food and exhibitions are brimming with jaw dropping aesthetic appeal. Note that I avoided the metro (no walking past weird men in leather jackets for me thank-you-very-much). Hong Kong is less about beauty and more about money and efficiency, with the most beautiful items probably being the Lamborghinis (love Lamborghini).

-L'amour - There's something about nobody having curtains, everyone getting undressed with them open, the handyman shaking your hand and giving you a twinkly smile and the neighbour saying a warm and cheery "bonjour" before grinning his way down the stairs, that's a little disconcerting. No wonder this place has a reputation... I suppose the Hong Kong handyman's gesture of taking off his shoes and padding around in his white socks also has its charm...

T breathed a sigh of relief when we landed and said "oh thank goodness you're not crying".

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Picasso and Cirque Calder for dinner

The HK Art Fair is back, and the city is buzzing with fabulousness.

Here's a picture of the fantastic menu my friend put together for a dinner party to inaugurate the event. I thought the art-inspired menu (heavy on Picasso) was rather brilliant.

Back: Elephants and cats and bulls and things

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The wrong side of the bed

On our way back from a rather heavy office lunch, we happened to have a particularly cheerful taxi driver. He joked and laughed while my colleagues nodded politely. As my Chinese in non-existent, I enjoyed this time to sneak in a bit of shut-eye. But just as I was hitting that food coma phase, the cab driver eyes me in the rearview mirror and shouts,

"Hey, you! Sorry we speak in Chinese. I love American movies. Haha" He grins cheerily.
"Oh?" I ask, trying to show that I'm more than happy not to enter this conversation, and would-be-quite-pleased-if-everyone-went-back-to-talking-Cantonese-so I can-have-a-snooze.
"Yes, I learn slang." He laughs and translates what he's just said to my colleagues - who all speak fluent English, and so need simultaneous translation as much as I need to be kept awake.
"Oh?" I ask again, sinking in my seat.

"Yes. Like....Shit Head!"

He then switches back to Cantonese and seems to be explaining what a wonderful term this is, as it's much more metaphorical than it is literal.

"And more!" And so he proceeds to list his proudly borrowed words from the movies, interrupting himself to explain all the nuances around each word. Here's the list:

Love handles - that's for boys, not for girls. Girls have a..
Muffin top - while boys also have a..
Spare tyre - which is the inner part of a tyre
Duffus - which means stupid
Monkey business
Eyes over stomach - which means you eat too much
Big wig
Back seat driver - haha. That's you!
Sleeping on the wrong side of the bed