The first confirmed case of Coronavirus in Hong Kong was on the 23rd of January 2020.
Today, nearly 2 months after the fact, we are experiencing part of the second wave of infections due, for the most part, to "returnees", all the folks who rushed back to Hong Kong, before the spread of the virus got out of hand where they were sheltering abroad, in Europe, the US, because of their initial fears of getting the virus in Hong Kong!
Many of the returnees came straight off a plane and headed to a gym or the crowded night life district of Lan Kwai Fong, go figure, the numbers spiking yet again has something to do with these healthy, hearty, silent two legged petri dishes not practicing social distancing or self-quarantine!
So whats the end result?
We are experiencing record low turn out to the restaurant, understandable in this time of concern for social distancing and decreasing chance of exposure. My concern, beyond the numbers, is for the safety of the team.
We have chosen to close the shop for the time being, and please let me explain why we chose this position, difficult as it has been to come to the decision.
Oftentimes its easy to just put the importance of making money above the health and welfare of the staff. We have one team mate who is pregnant and one with a underlying thyroid condition, so as the numbers rose, I immediately took the decision to keep them home, refrain from coming to work for two weeks, to self-quarantine. The rest of the team are heading to the A&E tomorrow in the hopes we can get tested for the Coronavirus and then armed with the facts, we make a decision from there whether to reopen the shop or to self-quarantine the entire team.
Its not been easy to figure where to get tested when you don't have symptoms. It seems almost a luxury to head out there to test when asymptomatic, but we are in an industry that keeps us all at the front line in this epidemic, hardly the people in hospitals, but we certainly come into contact with a lot of people and we are cleaning their plates, cutlery, tables, and even their used dining napkins and used tissues (yes, people still leave those on the plates).
We can mask up, glove up, use disinfectant till the cows come home, and anyway we are washing our hands after every contact with these above mentioned items, its still a scary place to be while we remain unsure of our collective health as a team and ensuring public safety as well.
We cannot control the situation of every customer possibly being an asymptomatic carrier, one thing we can control is whether or not we are all in the clear and safe to serve. Once we have that solid baseline we can ensure that hygiene protocol is followed by all staff and we can provide assurance to our customers that they are in a place where all the staff are Coronavirus negative on top of us disinfecting the premises frequently each day.
Of course, the safest bet would be to completely shut the shop, but in an economy where jobs are hard to come by, where people are taking pay cuts and unpaid leave, and in an economy that has already been in recession from 6 months of political upheaval, we are left with little choice when landlords refuse to put a hold on rent, where government rates on rental properties still need to be paid...and where being open brings in money to cover all of that or at least part of that, is the only thing keeping many small, independently owned businesses from going under.
We are waiting on the government subsidy to help cushion the kick in the nads that has been what economists are calling the biggest crash since 2008...and well..that could buy us maybe 3 months of rent if we didn't have to pay anyone at all!
Well, lets just say at least we remain upbeat, the shop is closed as of today, we all go to try to get tested at a public hospital tomorrow, if they turn us away coz we are all asymptomatic, then we have to go the more expensive private route, which would cost an arm and a leg, so lets hope we get accepted at the public hospital!
Will keep you posted. And please, take care of yourselves, stay safe, focus on the good out there in the world, and remain optimistic that everything will slowly crawl back to normal, even if it takes a year!
We got this.
You know, I am kinda saying that more for myself than anyone! Lol.
"I'm tryin' to tell you somethin' 'bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all, yeah
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety 'til I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores
And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine, yeah
The closer I am to fine, yeah"
I was sitting in the shop, after lunch rush, in the two hours we stay closed so the team can take a break before prepping for dinner shift...and this song played on one of my playlists...
It gets me every time.
You know, I grew up in boarding school. Its weird to explain to people who haven't been to boarding school. Many people may look at it as this uppity place to get educated, but in my experience it was layers upon layers of reasons for why I ended up in boarding school.
But that is for a later discussion...what I am trying to get at here is, I grew up in boarding school, and its pretty insulated...back in the day, before cellphones and computers in every home, the only exposure you had to music was radio or what your parents listened to!
If you grew up in Australia or Europe, like my husband did, then you had pretty decent access to radio, and radio that was worth listening to! Me? I grew up in India. Back in the 80's, we had, at best, scratchy reception to the BBC, which was mostly news with a lot of "beep, beep, beep" going on. And then there was the stuff my folks listened to.
Outside of what my folks listened to, which is all we listened to when we were on holiday from boarding school, on vinyl or cassette tape, we had what the cool kids would bring to school to play on cassette players their parents were rich enough to entrust them with!
Mixed tapes! Yeah!
So home was where I learned to sing every lyric to Simon & Garfunkel and of course, John Denver!
Don't laugh. It was easier than learning all the lyrics to songs by Julio Iglesias or Astrud Gilberto! I mean, I love music in Spanish & Portuguese, as obviously did my parents (!) but I can't guarantee what I am mimicking is legit or even makes sense!
My father was and still is an avid Jazz fan. Bossa Nova, all that old stuff with Joao and Astrud Gilberto, that "Girl from Ipanema" whatnot, my Dad absolutely LOVED that kind of music. So I learned to sing a lot of those songs, you know, to make my Dad love me more, lol, but also because the English versions of those songs were easy enough to memorize. I also learned to sing a lot of the songs from musicals like Cats (which, to this day, I have never seen, ever!)
I grew up on musicals.
A lot of musicals.
Any movie that had singing in it, I have seen it...and any movie that happened to have singing AND dancing in it, you betcha, I saw it!
Suffice to say that I may have known how to dance and sing every scene from A Chorus Line by the time I was 13, but I had not heard of U2! Yeah...or Queen...or...well, anyone worth listening to, really. And yet, I will be the first to admit that I was devastated when John Denver died.
My first exposure to real music, you know, like...U2, Bon Jovi (some may disagree on my liking them) and Crowded House...was when I moved to Hong Kong when I was 13. I had a friend, well, we are still friends, who dreamed of being a radio DJ...so she knew EVERY song out there! She was the first person to really open my mind to the world of recorded music worth being proud of having listened to...and for the longest time, my biggest joy was to go window shop at Tower Records!
My parents were extremely authoritarian, my mother believed that giving us pocket money was only going to lead to us getting up to no good, so we were given something like HKD40 a month, my brother and I, all the way up until I graduated high-school. Maybe by the end of high-school it was more like HKD100 a month, either way, it was not enough to buy anything more than a movie ticket or a cassette tape! So you bet your ass all I did was buy empty cassette tapes and record stuff off the radio! That was as good as it got. Then from there, edit, cut and paste, rerecord and make a good mixed tape!
So this brings me back to the song I have mentioned at the very beginning of all this...Closer to Fine.
I didn't learn about the Indigo girls until I moved to North Carolina.
I learned about their existence from a friend who was stationed there, she was from San Bernadino, California. She was also the person who shared with me her love of Fleetwood Mac, again, another band I had never heard of. The Eagles, I knew of their songs, I just never actually heard them on tape or actually sung by them until I was a teenager! Prior to that, I had heard my uncle sing Hotel California when strumming his guitar...that was about that!
You realize how weird it is to actually share this?
Kids today, or even adults who were born a mere 5-10 years after me, or even at the same time as me but on a different continent under different circumstances, simply may not be able to relate to a lot of what I am sharing.
Boarding School was like a bubble. I may have grown up in India, but I tend to say I grew up in "Boarding School in India", somehow hoping people can then understand what all that meant. It meant seeing your parents on holidays, it meant washing your own underwear, it meant uniforms and very little exposure to media!
I didn't experience India like many other people who grew up there. For me, I grew up in a Christian household, so we ate beef, which tends to be the first thing non-Indians ask you about when they find out you grew up in India, "Oh, so you didn't eat beef, right?" as if that was the one thing that set Indians apart from the rest of the world!
I also grew up in a household with a Japanese mother and an Indian father, so for me, we didn't grow up speaking an Indian language, we grew up speaking English and Japanese, but thanks to boarding school from 4 years old, I forgot my Japanese and spoke English only for as long as I can remember.
So outside of growing up in a very non-traditional home, the majority of my life lived in India was first in a Catholic boarding school and next in a military boarding school, so really, its not quite the same as growing up with exposure to the country and culture.
Boarding school was about growing up with friends...very little exposure to radio or TV (at least back then) and so...we read a lot of books, by the time I was 11, I was reading "grown up books" because, you know, I loved the experience of being transported out of the mundane and out of my life...I miss that thirst for the written word. In this day and age of Netflix and everything on demand, its kinda evaporated and become something I one day dream of recovering.
The last book I read was one on Stoicism, and it was pointing out how important it is to have a Philosophy on Life. To actually know what your philosophy on life is and to live it.
I don't know...sometimes I am lucky enough to even know WHERE I am going in life! Lol.
Where do I see myself in 5 years?
If you asked me this bog-standard question 5 years ago I wouldn't have had an answer for you, but I know exactly where I am gonna be in 5 years from now!
And I hope to high hell that it won't change.
5 years from now, I hope to be sailing around the world with my two youngest kids.
Everything we, my husband and I, are doing right now is leading up to that plan for our future.
To go off-grid, to home-school our kids who will be 11 and 13 by then, old enough to be capable deck-hands and to teach them in the stream of what is called "World Schooling", Teenage years can be hard, I know this, so does my husband, we have very similar childhood experiences of being uprooted from one culture and dropped into the deep end of another culture at the age of 13. Neither of us remember our school years as being a positive experience.
This isn't the why of our plans, this is just an aside. In the end, family is all that matters in life. Money is great, it helps, but its not the be all and end all. And even the word family, I view very differently than I did when I was younger. I no longer worry myself silly about maintaining my ties to my siblings or my parents, because for the most part, we live so far away from each other and we have so little in common, much of which I can trace back to us growing up in boarding school, in the same school, but essentially apart from each other, but also because we now live in different countries and have our own families and individual lives that are in no way parallel.
For me, where I stand, I have only a limited number of years to truly share in my kids life journey, its a finite number of years before they grown up, find love, and share their lives with someone they can then build their own family with.
I will cease to be the center of their universe, that day will come and I am neither sad nor in a hurry to get there, I am well aware that day will come and all I can do is hope they will have a life they are proud to have lived.
But back to the whole "journey around the world and stay off-grid" plan...I would love to have that opportunity to really bond with my kids, share the experience of a lifetime, be involved in their learning and daily life in the most claustrophobic ways, lol, for the short time I can experience all of that, I will take it. Because, one day, and make no mistake, that day will come, they won't need me anymore, and I am gonna be totally cool with that, because I will have no regrets.
I want nothing more than to live a life with no regrets.
I would love to experience the full throttle claustrophobia of family that I myself was denied, for whatever reason that was, mostly I just want to be able to really get to know my kids at the most crucial time in their lives, and to give them some semblance of support and guidance to prepare them for the world they will one day endure through.
How long do I hope we will sail the world?
No but seriously...whats so wrong with aiming for that?
Maybe 5 years seems more realistic...I mean, how old would we be? I would be 53 by the time we are done with 5 years of sailing, my husband would be 55...hmmm, that kinda sounds a bit rough for climbing up a mast, but I could be wrong! I used to think 43 was ancient, and look at me now, I may have a bit more of the aches and pains, but I still feel young! This here doesn't feel like what I envisioned 43 to be, you know, all bifocal sunglasses that changed color in the sun and dull colored jackets with shoulder pads!
I am not the 43 I used to shudder at! Matter of fact, the older I get the more I find myself saying, "But he was so YOUNG" when someone 70 dies!
20 years ago I would have thought that 70 was a damn good age to make it to!
Now I have a mother turning 70 and my Dad is almost 75! Both are still working coz they love to, not because they have to. So my whole, "that's too old" radar is kinda busted! Don't get me wrong, I sure as hell hope I can stop working by the time I am 70, but I doubt I would lose my sense of purpose unless my mind goes first!
What appeals to me about sailing around the world is not the sailing itself. I will be honest and admit that much of what can go wrong on a sailing vessel scares the shit out of me. Mending sails, scrubbing decks, gently scrubbing off bird poop, tying a million different knots, chipping barnacles off the rudder in between breaths...all of that is not much fun. Even the prospect of sleeping on the ocean, taking turns at anchor watch or just watch, if you are drifting, that doesn't sound like fun to me.
What appeals to me is being far away from the rest of the world, having time to read, having time to write, and having time to be creative. I just don't think that can be achieved if I am jobless in an apartment while still having access to everything that comes easy.
Am I wrong to think that this kind of life would be exactly what my kids will hopefully appreciate? Can a child who has been exposed to the mind rotting world of YouTube actually be able to recover some of his humanity while out on the ocean? Can a child who has been expected to be the same as every other child in a school classroom finally thrive when given the world around him to learn from? How much would my children learn to respect the planet they live on if they learn in a classroom vs if they learn while sailing its vast oceans? What is my life's philosophy then?
To respect the planet, I want my children to learn first hand that a life is a life, no matter how small and no matter what earthling lives it. To see the oceans, to see the damage being done to the environment, and to hold some sense of responsibility for the future as much as they can be responsible for their place in it. This is what I hope to teach my children.
Our lives, our days, my days, they are finite. My days are numbered, I have no idea how long I will live, and I sure as hell hope its at least another 10 years so I can make it to our "lets sail the world" kick off and also to a bare minimum of "gee, we managed to sail the world for 5 whole years" point.
I guess what I am getting at is this, life is short, I kinda know this, because I always come back to when I was so sure I was going to die and I did everything I could to learn how to live. I can say with some certainty that I now do everything I can to maintain my focus on the why of what I am doing and the where of why I am doing what I am doing is gonna take me.
This shop, Confusion, I hope that in 5 years we have more than one or that we just have one good one that is financially sound. I hope that my team are all taken care of and that should they still be with me, that they are on good salaries supported by the sound foundation the years prior have built. Me? I don't actually have any wishes for myself. It would be great if the shop and its operation actually paid dividends, but its not something I am counting on because I hope to be doing everything I can to ensure I am financially self-sufficient through other creative outlets such as documentary film making or writing...who knows, the future is wide open, right?
I just want to spend time with my kids, really live a life in condensed form, thick with a fog of awesome memories so that when they move on to their individual lives as adults, they can look back and regret nothing. I don't want them to feel guilty for not calling me or not spending Christmas with me...I just want them to be happy, I guess, and if anyone knows how fleeting happiness can be, its me.
Sailing, the great expanse of the ocean, that to me spells good times and bad, stormy weather and calm, it spells mending and fixing...it spells a lot of lentils and beans! I want my children to weather all of that with me, with US. I can't imagine what the whole experience of sailing the world would bring for my husband and I, we would have to learn to rely on each other in a whole different way. And I especially, would have to learn to be reliable and self-reliant in a whole different way! Lol.
The more I focus on what I want to achieve in the next 5 years, the stronger my resolve becomes. I want to achieve growth for the company and stability for the brand we build. I want to achieve a sense of grounding for my children, before I take them out there on the ocean and beyond, its why we let go of our helper, no help has meant that the kids are having to rely on us and vice versa. They are learning how to be independent earlier and to be self-reliant too. By the time we make it to the 5 year mark, 2025, they will have learned how to sail solo, know how to be part of a crew, and hopefully I will have taken a sailing course by then, although, looking at my schedule as it is, I doubt that will be any time soon!
One step at a time, or as they say, best not get ahead of myself!
When I focus on the here and now, with the Corona Virus and general panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer around me, its hard to feel positive, but the more I focus on 5 years from now...well, the closer I am to fine.
Sometimes it takes something that far in the future to help one get through the now.
Well, I just wanted to share that...where I am at right now...I am focusing on something so far in the future so that it makes everything I will go through until then seem like a worthwhile "Paris-Roubaix"!
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.