Once a week, on a Sunday, I have a date to "see" my sister and her three year old twin boys (AKA the Peas) using the webcam. I feel the need to dress up for the occasion and always put lipstick on, and sometimes a wig or a hat to make them laugh. It is odd knowing that I am looking in to Claire’s living room in East Lothian - Scotland - UK - The World. When I physically step inside that room I am usually jetlagged, tired, disorientated, but happy to be back with my family so there is another disconnect to be looking in to her house when I am feeling none of those things. At 9pm on Sunday night in Hong Kong it’s lunchtime on a Sunday in the UK and the sun always seems to be shining like a memory of childhood. This week my dad (Chris) and his wife were there and were, rather touchingly, excited beyond measure at the strangeness of technology. Chris must be the slowest typist ever. There’s no sound, so all I could see was "… is writing a message" and the top of Chris’s head (still blond, but slightly balding) as he pored over the keyboard laboriously writing. Occasionally Claire walked past with a little boy either on her hip or looking up at her plaintively, completely ignoring the computer in the corner even though their aunt was looking out of it. After at least 10 minutes of typing Chris’s message finally came up and it was a pocket sized sentence. I realised that this was the first time I’d ever seen my father in front of a computer.
It is a strange sensation viewing the lives they are living as though watching a documentary (“Little Sister is Watching You”). Sometimes someone moves the curtain and the sun stripes across the room. People are holding cups of tea in coloured mugs. Chris (my dad) is wearing a bright red shirt and waistcoat with a kerchief neatly tucked in the pocket. His wife is wearing a long black skirt and has a faintly Romanian air about her. Faces cross the eye of the webcam, smile, wave, reassuringly continue doing what they are doing as if it’s commonplace having me here watching. The TV may be on because I can almost see its flicker in the corner. I hold my camera up to show the lights of Hong Kong night (and my neighbours’ lives) outside my window.
After I stop watching the sun will still be shining and they will finish their cups of tea.