Hong Kong Hearts | Volume One

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January favorites. Hong Kong finds. Local. Things I loved.

I make my own coffee at home and there is a Nespresso machine at the office, but there’s nothing I love more than going to a nearby coffee shop to work, write or read for a couple of hours. January’s favorites: Coco Espresso and The Cupping Room.

My favorite alternative to the usual store-bought roasted chicken: La Rôtisserie. Authentic French roasted chicken, including the roasted potatoes cooked at the bottom of the pan, and delicious dessert pieces mean we eat this twice a week. Bonus: the paper box packaging.

Street art and graffiti seem to be booming in Sheung Wan and Central right now. I have been documenting it all and a series is beginning to take shape.

A couple of weeks ago I bought an early Valentine’s card for the boy: I weed you right now by nocturnal paper that I found at the WOAW store in Gough Street. Gough Street is my haven.

Sunday’s Grocery. I go where the chicken is. Third brainchild of Lindsay Jang (I wrote about Yardbird and Ronin before). Two words: chicken and waffles. A weekend special in Kennedy Town; with a great ambient, selection of drinks and the best staff in the city. Now with the railways extended to the west, it is not out of the way for me anymore either.

A Boy Named Sue | NYC-style cheesecake from The Kitchen Addict | Eat Ethio

All images are mine, except for the last one. Courtesy of La Rôtisserie.



a favorite.

in the light of the recent developments in hong kong this past week and the fact that today is october 1; china’s national day, I am sharing a few of my favorite images from the protest. the events of the last few days have been rather serious and they provoked an incredible wave of reactions from the people of hong kong.

for those who have no idea what is going on in hong kong at the moment (although I seriously doubt that you were able to escape the news):

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quartz explains the meaning and the use of umbrellas on the streets. occupy central with love and peace. almost a hundred thousand people took to the streets. the guardian has been reporting on #occupycentral since the start. hong kong people! drone footage of the protests in central, wan chai, and causeway bay. instagrams from the centre. it’s time to give a fuck, people. the time for democracy is always now. the economic explains why hong kong remains critical to china’s economy. and today’s the day. hong kong police fires tear gas. cnn’s iReports from the field. areas of protest; the one in mong kok is literally one block away from my building, but we are unaffected. except for a short electricity outage last night. china is blocking content: cnn’s coverage gets blacked out, instagram has been mostly blocked. what they want vs. what we need. the most civilized protest in history. a very cool set of black and white images. the best instagrammers to follow for #occupycentral and #umbrellarevolution. full text of china’s message to hong kong. the most prominent leader behind the movement is only 17 years old. overall quartz has been doing a very good job reporting on the latest news from hong kong; appropriately titled the future of hong kong.

september days


the blue hour: sundown in hong kong. shot in wan chai.

here’s something funny: at the start of the month I attempted to write every single day of september and I lasted exactly two days. with the second day being reduced to a post of images rather than words. no matter what I keep telling myself (convincing myself of), the truth is that I am losing my writing. I am losing it.

every time I am reminded of this, I am filled with dread. disappointment. I am struggling with the 24 hour days. there is never enough time for everything. and prioritizing feels like being pulled through a very narrow channel or tunnel, emerging on the other side, short of breath and in discomfort. that is if one survives such a thing. I am not sure what will happen to me.

I can say that my writing has suffered in twenty-fourteen. but otherwise, this year has been most unexpected and filled with changes. my inability to keep up with my writing now has legitimate reasons: I have been in and out of transitions. at the start of the year, I moved out into my own apartment. together with the boy, we adjusted to our new lifestyle and life over a few months. it was difficult at the beginning of it. like, really fucking difficult.

I struggled with my goals and plans. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just knew that I needed a change. for almost twelve months, I looked for a job, an opportunity that would allow me to do exactly what I wanted. I interviewed with a bunch of restaurants and bars in hong kong to improve their marketing and advertising strategies. nothing inspired me enough. I began freelance writing when I had a spare moment. that made me happy, but it wasn’t enough. after five months of searching, I couldn’t find a company with such a corporate culture that would make me want to be there.

with this, I entered a phase of absolute frustration with everything. and I would always blame the city for it. I would blame hong kong for all of my problems. which was very unproductive, prolonging the entire cycle of never-ending irritation and dissatisfaction.

then one morning, on the train ride to kowloon bay, I received a mass newsletter from akilah institute. it was a “we are hiring!” email that listed about half a dozen positions for various roles. neither fit me perfectly, but I saw myself working for this organization. akilah institute is a non-profit college in east africa, that provides market-relevant education to young women. I had met the co-founder more than a year and a half ago and since then I’d been following them closely. numberless of times I had wanted to send a networking email, but I never did. something always felt off.

until that morning.

so I sent a Facebook message to the co-founder; with a causal inquiry. which then ended with a job proposition, an interview, a second interview, a trial period of two months and finally, a full-time job offer, which I commenced at the end of last month. I am still based in hong kong, but the international doors wide-opened the way they were not before.

I am doing something that I’d been wanting to do for the longest time. I cannot tell you how good that feels. if any of this is any indication, twenty-fourteen kicked ass. I will try to be in touch more often.

life, lately

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new morning routines. cafe o. universal trade centre. 9-6. but I am finally doing what I’ve been wanting to do. / sunny soho, one afternoon. I wandered out for lunch and ended up snacking on nuts and taking photos for 45 minutes instead of a proper lunch. / an older photo from last month; the last of summer. / late afternoon views. definitely not the thousands hills, but it’ll do for now.

an ode to summer


graham street in central.

I have been quiet; as quiet as I could have possibly been with everything that has been happening this summer. twenty-fourteen is different, just as we had wanted. just as we had predicted. but of course, I wouldn’t believe anything until it was right in front of me. something I could hang onto, something to see & smell. it was so important, crucial even, that I get through the second year without any re-opening of the wounds. eight months into this year, I can proclaim that I have been successful. I have changed; developed. my own mistakes from the past serving as the profound and unavoidable source of motivation and drive. for a long time, I couldn’t pinpoint what it was that inspired me, that kept me going, but it is only people. people who are better than me, people who are proficient and fluent, if not absolute experts in their areas or fields of interests. only through them I have been able to form my own path; create a vision for the future, which is something I did not have before. just a while ago, it was missing. like a blank that needed to be filled in. a form to be completed. a constellation of dots to be connected in order to make sense.

for a long time, I couldn’t comprehend why I was impeccably drawn to the past and the future, never fully living in the present. I was not aware of energies that surround me, energies that control me and energies, which I can control. it wasn’t until I cleared my mind, opened it and went back to the small office on the second floor in one of the buildings in central. I used to disbelieve the entire concept of kinesiology, but it plucked me in so hard and so fast that my views changed overnight. it was like turning on a light switch that was there all along, I just didn’t know it because it was too dark to see it. someone had to show me. it is a shame though, that she didn’t come sooner. that she didn’t appear earlier in my life to show me the switch, as I couldn’t have been spared of a long line of consequences and the painful, horrid days, which I call the aftermath. it cannot happen before it happens.

tomorrow is september the first, which is my personal, inner new year. september as a month has become my favorite over the years, mainly because I dislike hong kong summers the way I do now. I can’t fight this. it is a predisposition that has been forced over me rather than a choice, and my mistake was in not knowing how to cope with it. I think I do now.

june was mainly about unwritten words, and then the written ones. I’d began working on a series of posts for a hong kong city guide and published another with literary city guides of eat this poem. I’m still proud of this compilation. I read some of maya’s words, but I couldn’t focus for more than an hour on anything. I wish I’d escaped to the beach more often, but the heat was grueling. summer always is. we’d explored kennedy town and sheung wan on a number of evenings. we’d explored kowloon bay and to kwa wan. some of the nights were worse than others; sometimes the upper power, the upper hand, that still has a hold over me, takes over and there is nothing I can do about it. those are the fights I’d never written about, because it is the only way I will forget them. as much as writing is about preserving memories, not writing works equally well for the opposite purpose. I am learning to choose the moments and place them in the right folders. empty ones versus lengthy prose of endless self-sabotage.

she said that to me. you enjoy sabotaging yourself. there were a lot of things she said to me and they were so true, I wondered about supernatural powers and humans’ ability to use them.

july was split in the centre with an anniversary I don’t want to explain. it’s straight in the middle, dividing the month into before and after with nothing in between. another reason I have not been writing otherwise is because I’d gotten into a habit of pouring my soul and heart out to a friend, who was not a friend in high school, but now he is. at least not that way. I am still adjusting to how much my relationships have changed with people around me and those that are far away. I spent many hours wandering around SoHo, tsim sha tsui, and kong kok. regular grocery shopping trips. I have not bought any books or clothes for the past three months. well, books maybe. other nights, those rainy hot ones we spend in the cool darkness of a cinema house. as always. four to six movies a month is our average.

I wrote more letters to him (you’ll never see them). I failed to meet with prince edward boy. as punishment jamaica left without me ever seeing him. life is teaching me to be more considerate, mindful and to slow down. the only thing that saved july from its suicide was a fresh opportunity; something entirely new. a chance to do what I have been dreaming about. quietly working towards without actually knowing where it would lead. but dots connected and the universe was on my side. for once. I went back to the second floor and everything came together. bitch, why are you so cryptic all the time?  I don’t feel like I have a choice. the bird was a frequent character in our days, but the initial excitement of spending sleepless nights on our sofa has worn out. which is okay. I expect, secretly, that he’ll be back once the heat subsides and there are less vacations to take. there were some good nights. a lot of them. with filmmaker and the quiet one. with randoms I’d met on various occasions. with the parents. I enjoy going back home for a dinner or a session on our balcony filled with conversations, smoke and mason jars of bambus. that was july and it was relatively okay. it could have been worse. it can always be worse.

with august came the hottest days of the summer; of the year. with august came expectations and waiting. a lot of waiting. I waited for things to come together. (they did.) I waited for an email that would tell me, you’ve got the job. (I got it.) I waited for him to acknowledge my existence, even remotely. (he wrote a few times.) I waited for the summer to come to an end. (it did, finally.) I waited for my red, chopped skin to return to normal. (it healed.) I waited with the boy for khalifa’s blacc hollywood to come out. (it came out. and it’s awesome.) I waited. and with waiting I learned that things eventually do happen as I wish, if only I help them a little bit and push in the right direction.

I am so close to being on the right path; so close to being headed in the right the direction. I’m almost there.