Thursday, January 21, 2010

Romancing the Dragon

Me and Shashi spent the last few days of 2009 in Hong Kong, where her sister lives. From a positively frigid welcome at the HK airport Immigration, the visit soon moved on to not-so-infrequent bouts of warmth, despite the foggy, smoggy and cold weather.

We did the Peak tram, Disneyland, Madame Tussauds, IFC and Avatar in 3D (not in any particular order of merit).

I also met some old students and made new friends. And went to lanes where Wong Kar Wai apparently shot parts of his films.

Back home, freshly into the new year, I missed toilet paper.

The young man at Stanley market wrote (what hopefully are) our names in Chinese calligraphy. He was, I thought, quite good in his brushwork. At 300 HK$ (approx 1,800 INR) he made me believe I had got a terrific shop-closing-time steal.

Lin Zexu, senior Chinese official of the Qing dynasty, fought against the unregulated import of opium into China by the British, leading to the First Opium War of 1839. His defeat led to the cession of Hong Kong Island by China to Britain, a process which was reversed only in 1997. The British cultivated the opium in colonial India, for export to China - note the 'Patna Opium' stamped wooden chest! Exhibit @ Hong Kong Museum of History, an excellent place, smartly imagined and put together.

Near where we stayed. For a long time I kept looking for signs of avian and human presence. This part of Hong Kong is expensive, expatriate and relatively empty of street life.

The classic view of Hong Kong, from the Peak.

Cultural Revolution Playing Cards! Bought from the Mong Kok Ladies Market.

Hail Mogambo!

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Et tu Obama?

Relatively unknown.

An innovative intermittent motion device at the Disneyland park, explaining the illusion of movement.

Shashi's brother-in-law Eric runs an intriguing Vintage French Wine outlet 'Bacchus & Century' in the entertainment district of Lan Kwai Fong.

Instead of bottles, the display at 'Bacchus & Century' showcases (now) chic artistic mileposts of the respective years.

Care for some Champagne?


Lan Kwai Fong

Wong Kar Wai territory

Manisha Chatterjee, my old student, and Rajat Dasgupta, her husband (and brother of another old student Rhea). I had a wonderful half-day with them.

Manisha is slowly adjusting to Hong Kong and its malls. We cribbed together, while Rajat spiced the conversation with his witty, observant one-liners. Apparently the only place you can get 'eve-teased' in Hong Kong (if you so desire) is at Tsim Sha Tsui - where a large number of South Asians live.

Hidden behind the glitzy high street malls, this 'familiar' street food joint was a relief.

Pig intestine with noodles, anyone ? The news headline above talks about common folk being detained in mainland China, for protesting against a polluting neighbourhood industrial plant.

I met Shamik (then a young undergraduate student) in early 1997, soon after I joined NID as a not-so-young film faculty. Together we did some great work at/with the NID Film Club. Catherine is a colleague and friend of Shamik. I liked her affable disposition.

Catherine and her husband Eddie. He is the quieter of the two. The couple (recently become parents) emanate a non-intrusive positivity.

Shamik took me to an unusual DVD shop, called Kubrick (@ Broadway Cinematheque, Yau Ma Tei). The collection here was both varied and rich. I bought the DVD of 'Cafe Lumiere' (a beautiful, fragile film tribute by the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien to the great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu).

Sunshine... Annabelle (Shashi's niece) at the Sky Terrace.

More sunshine... Shashi, Annabelle, Chandni (Shashi's sister) and Benjamin (Shashi's nephew). Rahul, the eldest of Chandni's three kids, is busy in his teens.
all photos: arun gupta