Saturday, June 10, 2006

Head on the block

In keeping with the rich, somewhat narcissistic blog tradition of making the slightest incident take on unbearable weight because it happened to me: today unbearable weight did happen to me, in the form of the unbearable weight of the ama hitting me on the head during a huli drill. The rest of the crew had to paddle me to shore with blood streaming from my head and I ended up in the emergency room getting five stitches.

I've been in a&e before with a head injury: during a school dress rehearsal for The Importance of Being Earnest, when I was 16, in which I was playing Algernon (complete with pencilled on moustache), I had to be taken the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for stitches - six that time, so obviously today was a walk in the park - because a piece of scenery fell on my head.

Unlike the Royal, today the Hong Kong hospital x-rayed my head, and so I saw the skull beneath my skin for the first time - a fascinating sight.

At the time I had a big crush on my English/drama teacher, Mr Snow, who took me to a&e, so I milked the situation for everything I could - "hold my hand, I feel faint!". What a manipulative little cow.

Today I had my crew members holding my hand - the sort of bonding experience, and accident drill, that you don't really want to engineer, but it was a perfect example of everyone staying calm and working together to retrieve the situation.

They had to shave a little of my hair off, so I think my place in the Miss Outrigger Hong Kong Beauty Pageant will have to be forfeited.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Friday, June 02, 2006

Falun angel

On my way to work every morning I cross a pedestrian bridge over a busy highway heading up from the harbour to Mid-Levels. A pocket sized woman mans the bridge every day from about 8am, handing out free newspapers to passers by and calling out "jo san!" (good morning) to the passers by, if they're Chinese, and "morning!" to the gweilos.

As the newspaper she's giving away is in Chinese, I've never picked one up, and after a few half-hearted responses in kind, I started ignoring her as I walked by. She seemed to take this very personally and whenever she saw me she'd leap like a dervish across the pathway to stand right in front of me and shriek "morning!" at me reprovingly. Eventually I gave in because she started to make me feel guilty: after all it's a pretty lonesome furrow she's ploughing and it must be extremely depressing when everyone walks past you stony-faced. So now she says "morning!" and I say "jo san!" and we smile complicitly at each other, although she still seems faintly dissatisfied with my behaviour.

It was only very recently that I realised what she was giving out: it's a Falun Gong newspaper with garish pictures of beaten bodies. She has started to put up pictures on the railings all the way along the walkway, which is surprising in itself that the police haven't tried to move her on. It's an appropriate place for her to be: just over the way looms the former British Army base, now home to the Chinese Army. I can see it from my office window: soldiers marching across the square, and the swimming pools and tennis courts from colonial days lying unused. It certainly explains her look of forbearance and determination, but not her personal gripe at me. Whenever I've seen them before, the Falun Gong have been demonstrating peacefully, chiefly it seems by sitting in the lotus position, closing their eyes, and sitting incredibly still for hours, but I don't think my wee woman has read the manual.