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Friday, April 21, 2017

Tainted love . . .


this stunning view . . .
I expected to love Hong Kong. And I do, but it's one of those toxic loves you want to get away from as quickly as you can, while not letting it know you're breaking up.

I'm not allergic to it, but I have developed a distinct intolerance. despite its many charms.

So, now I've decided we're breaking up, I want to enjoy this amazing city as much as I can. Which is really, really easy to do. I just have to be careful not to let it sweet-talk me into staying, because it's not good for my long-term physical or mental health.

I'm stunned to consider how sick I am in HK, but so is everyone I work with and almost everyone I know. A friend who has lived here for seven-plus years said this past winter was the worst she had experienced in terms of illness and described a feeling I've learned only too well these past three months - where you feel yourself recovering from one illness only to find another varietal taking its place. To borrow a US military acronym, SSDD - Same Shit, Different Day. One strain of the lurg of the week will give you a raw throat served as a side dish to the general malaise and wooly-headed 'feeling like crap' (a technical term), with another your throat will be fine but you develop a smoker's cough without needing to inhale.

I shared the back row of a flight back from New Zealand last week with two young boys (unaccompanied minors and they sit them beside me? what were they thinking?) and it's not just overworked adults who suffer. One told me he has eczema in Hong Kong (and he lives on one of the islands, not downtown) but not in New Zealand. My asthma is the same - I barely notice it when living long-term in Aotearoa but it's a life-and-death issue for me in Asia.

As to mental health, which greatly impacts physical health and the body's ability to shake off illness, HK seems overly intense for the purpose of appearing so, rather than to achieve anything. Few expats I know take meal breaks or breaks of any kind because to do so would mean having to work longer than they already do, and nobody wants to do that. Which is so counter-productive and counter-intuitive it leaves me incredulous.

I've discussed work-life balance with friends in HK and NZ over the past few weeks and I get a similar questioning look in both locales, but for very different reasons. In Hong Kong, the question is what that means (work-life balance??); in New Zealand the question is why such a term exists. Isn't that simply called life?

BUT, Hong Kong IS amazing - it's just not where I can live. But while I'm here, I plan to live it well, knowing I have a timeline and a recovery plan in place.

The Pacific Ocean, forests, rivers, art, music, theatre, friends, food and no doubt a little politics - its nearing time to go home.

. . . or this . . .

Thursday, April 6, 2017

tangata whenua

tangata whenua - loosely, people of the land, but so much more

I just Google-translated both parts of that

interesting, in many ways

Google Translate says tangata means "man" - my memory was that tangata means person or people, no gender specified, but this is Google translate

Ii did better with whenua - it recognised the word as inseparable from the land, offering "land", "country", "ground" and "terrain" as translations but completely missed the other meaning and the importance of it

whenua also means placenta or afterbirth (sorry, any squirmy boy readers out there - I recommend you get over your sqeamishness and become men)

so, we are tangata "people" of te whenua "the land, the placenta"

this is how deeply we relate to the earth - we are born of her and nursed by her, and blessed by her

our creation myth has our mother, Papatuanuku (the earth mother) and our father Ranginui (the earth father) embracing each other so closely that their sons couldn't breathe

by the way, the boys were all considered gods also, and they wanted to breathe and yell and be loud proud boys, but it was hard when you were trapped between the parental units

meet the guys:
Tumatauenga - god of war, hunting and fishing, but also of agriculture.

I feckin love that my ancestors knew there was a time to come home from war and grow things. Very cool, peeps

Tawhirematea - let's keep it simple and say he's the god of storms and weather and winds - there's a lot more drama but there are also more brothers to meet

Tangaroa - the god of the sea, which feeds us and challenges us and often kills us if we're careless

the previous two are the one's I speak most to while at sea - soldiers and sailors pray a lot as part of their jobs, they just might picture who they are praying to differently (one godhead, far-too-many systems)

more Maori boys to come,

Tane-mahuta - god of forests and birds

Tane is THE dude of Maori gods. Forests and birds, dude. Tane is strength, and quiet power and longevity

we have a giant Kauri (tree) in Northland that is the largest known - estimated to be about 2,000 years old

also named Tane Mahuta - but, sigh, Tane was the son who separated Ma and Pa, nobody else was strong enough

hard to get past that

Rongo - god of peace and cultivated food

because, you know, you need peace to cultivate food (why is that so dificult?)

Haumia-tiketike - god of wild food plants

NB: In case you haven't noticed, we not only cover all bases but we cover all food sources

Ruauomoko - god of earthquakes, volcanoes and seasons

They all go together

Rehua/Antares - the mysterious star child



Is it obvious that I am really looking forward to going home?