"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
September 22, 2009

My Hong Kong?

Yesterday I responded on Twitter to a question about what Twitter meant to me. Yeah, I know, solipsism all the way baby!. My response was, Twitter is small, elfin threads of connection to the place where I live and to folks whose passions are similar to mine. Pretty obvious stuff. I snuck in the word […]

Yesterday I responded on Twitter to a question about what Twitter meant to me. Yeah, I know, solipsism all the way baby!. My response was,

Twitter is small, elfin threads of connection to the place where I live and to folks whose passions are similar to mine.

Pretty obvious stuff. I snuck in the word “elfin” because it implied a sense of being flirtatious, playful and charming. But, elfin also implies a sense of provisionality, tenuousness and even impermanence. Elves are, after all, imaginary creatures. They are good for populating stories set in mythical worlds, or online games, but that’s about it.

It turns out that elfin is not just a good way to describe my relationship to Twitter, it’s also a good way to describe my relationship to this city – provisional, tenuous and impermanent. Yesterday was a really important day for me – I made some critical moves on my solo album (artwork and mastering). You would think I could find some mastering and graphic design people here to take that work on. But, a combination of indifference, unanswered emails and outrageously high quotes scuppered that. Instead I went with people I knew I would like to work with and damn the geographical divides.

But, over the past day or so I’ve been consumed with how little connection my day to day work has with the city I live in.

Maybe I should just accept that in trying to be a “global micro-brand” that will happen. Maybe; I don’t know. When it comes to buying products and services related to my work, I’ve almost stopped trying to shop locally. It’s not something I’m entirely happy with. Part of me is programmed to assume that only happens when we become lazy. Still, I study with BerkleeMusic and am planning on going to either Europe or the US for my further Logic certification – all because I can’t find good music education locally in a format that makes sense for me. I import all my studio equipment including cables and plugs – even guitar strings! All my musical collaborators and even my musical encouragers are overseas!

The one bright spark is that I’ve found an excellent photography teacher who is based in Hong Kong.

It’s one of those things about being an expat, sometimes the benefits only come when you look under a different rock. I banged my head against a wall for a while trying to get the studio support I needed to no avail. But, then I seemed to stumble upon a really good thing with another passion. I’m not about to switch from being a musician or anything like that, but I am looking forward to one day leaving this city with a much bigger photographic skill set.

I’m noticing that my experience of Hong Kong is playing out quite differently to my last two expatriate adventures. I found London to be initially very tiring and lonely, but after a while, as it grew familiar I came to love the city and still maintain a lot of friendships there. Delhi was even harder in the first year – borderline traumatic in fact. But, after a while it also got under my skin and there is a lot I miss about the culture and the life we had there. I’ve maintained fewer friendships from my time in that city, but still keep in touch with some people and have acquired what will be a lifelong love of Indian film, art and literature.

But, Hong Kong has been totally different. I found it easy to make acquaintances early on, but harder as time has past. Initially I found the city easy, but dull. Although I understand its nuances better now, I can’t say I’ve grown fond of any of it. It’s a comfortable place to work in, as long I don’t think too long about how little notice anyone takes of that work. In Delhi, my blog attracted a lot of local internet traffic, here in Hong Kong it attracts almost none (even for things like arts festival reviews)!

Anyway, we are here for a while yet. So, there’s not much value to labouring this paradox. I just need to turn up every morning at the studio and get on with the work, making the best of life and enjoying the connections I do have to this city, however elfin they may be.

Responses
Toni 13 years ago

It does sound to me like you’re quite ready to move on from Hong Kong. Any idea how far over the horizon that move is?

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

No Toni. No idea.

John Flynne 13 years ago

Fern,
Something useful for you to explore while in HongKong
1. https://www.crossroads.org.hk/lifex-perience.
2. https://www.crossroads.org.hk/our-work/what-we-do.

You may even meet some people you know.

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