Well hello, Tiger

Unfortunately I’m at an age where it’s more Tiger Balm than Tiger Beer but today ushers in another new year and tigers are everywhere. Mostly cuddly ones distributing money. Perhaps it is a time for reflection too. I can’t recall a time in my 60+ years when mental health has been the subject of greater focus. The extended pandemic has created stresses and strains we have rarely if ever encountered.  My coping mechanism has been more time on the hills away from crowds and places I need to register to enter. And photography – always carrying a camera. Finally, exercise – a medical problem led me to start working with a fitness trainer. I can’t claim to be Charles Atlas nor a Yogi. In fact I’m closer to Yogi Bear. But slowly the creaks and groans of a frame being moved into unfamiliar positions are improving my health.
What is quite alarming, even demoralizing, is watching videos online of yoga for beginners. What sort of beginners are they thinking of? The ‘ten minute warm up’ routine takes me about thirty minutes as I try to force my body into discomfort zones it just hates. Never was an exercise less aptly named than the Wall Angel. I can just about manage the Cat and Cow now and a bit of the Cobra. My balance has improved significantly but what I really need is to learn to meditate. 🧘 The idea of letting my mind go blank and finding inner peace really appeals to me. The worst aspect of living in a zero-Covid prison is that the mind works overtime, especially at night when I start pondering the lost opportunities of enforced isolation. And I have not even had to quarantine (yet). I keep working out what percentage of my life (past and unquantifiable future) is being subjugated to the plague. Most societies are now adopting some form of living with Covid. The trade off in many countries is you need to be vaccinated. I don’t want to get into the debate about the rights and wrongs of vaccination passports or even mandatory vaccination. It is difficult to reconcile the freedom of the individual and the moral obligation to society. My brain works frantically and craves the freedom to visit places of my choice without being compelled to spend 21 days in a quasi-prison camp. I often wonder how much longer the beaten down populace will stay docile and compliant. Silent resentment is giving way to more vociferous demands for pragmatism. In vain so far.
Blending photography with writing is a good outlet. Reading is another. I recently bought a trilogy of books by BB. His magnum opus, The Little Grey Men, is essentially a fairy story. Only the fairies are gnomes. The last gnomes in England. What is the attraction of such a book to a pensioner? Well I first read the book at primary school. This is probably my fourth read. What I find especially captivating is the power of observation that Denys Watkins-Pitchford (BB) brings to his descriptions of the creatures that fill the pages of the adventure story. He is clearly a naturalist first and dare I say a writer afterwards. The anthropomorphic characters may not appeal to all but I delight in his portrayal of the inhabitants of wood and stream. There is a sequel, Down the Bright Stream which is equally well written. Perhaps I regress but maybe not as I am following the BB books with Joyce’s The Dubliners.
My blog post on Henri Cartier-Bresson has been republished by Photography Daily: https://www.photographydaily.show/friends/hcb-henri-cartier-bresson with a few more photos added. The podcast segment has been recorded and I spoke without deviation, hesitation or repetition for a full 8 minutes. Now it will be edited down to a more bite size chunk and will probably end up at a couple of minutes. Nowhere near the fifteen minutes of fame I am supposed to get. Or I may be cut altogether. Ouch. The star of the piece is a family heirloom – a biscuit tin no less. I leave you to wonder how that fits in.
One of the pleasures of the lunar new year is exchanging greetings with friends near and far. This year many people will miss out on lai see (the red packets containing lucky money) because people are being asked to work from home, keep a social distance, not to mix with friends and family and indeed to have a thoroughly miserable time. Instead we can (fanfare) – give friends an ‘e lai see’. An electronic red packet does not seem quite the same to me. Much less fun. One year the younger cost centre was mightily embarrassed when she gave out some red packets having forgotten to put anything in them. I suspect the recipients were laughing rather than angry or insulted – so easily done. For non-Chinese we agonise over how much to give, to whom we should give and how to make sure we give the correct intended amount to the right recipient. Typically we over-give so as not to appear mean. I don’t think the locals are nearly as hung up on this. It is after all just a tradition. Nevertheless many children will be poorer than they had hoped.
And now I must close as the moment approaches when the children and grandchildren will arrive and peace and tranquility will fly out of the window. We will all be dressed in red and everybody will eat radish cake. I have no idea why. It smells disgusting but tastes borderline acceptable. A bit like durian. And after that I can wind down with a wordle. I only discovered wordle yesterday and it seems I must be several months behind the rest of civilisation in that respect. I have some catching up to do. And with that I shall simply say _ _ _ _ _ See if you can solve that. Answers in the comments please.

Impressions of Hong Kong
Hong Kong by Lai See (Lucky Monet)

20 thoughts on “Well hello, Tiger

  1. I did yoga for years and years, finally realizing all it did for me was cause pinched nerves. I hate it. Now I do an adapted form of Tai Chi and am stronger, more mobile and have better balance than I have had for years.
    As for pragmatism, I’m with you. In the US, it is well known that the vaccines work. The last I heard from the CDC was that 95% of the people who are dying every day are unvaccinated. This seems like simple enough math. Maybe if we stop trying to force people to get vaccinated they will decide on their own to do so. Or, maybe they won’t and then they die and I’m not sure why I should care about that. As for isolation, I LOVE it. :).

    • I tried Tai Chi many years ago and it is a lot more difficult than it looks. Very tiring. I think any stretching or flexibility exercises combined with some resistance training must be beneficial. I don’t understand why people resist the math either but hey, they bear the consequences. I enjoy isolation when I can choose but not all the time. I need company sometimes. Its hard to find in HK.

      • It sounds difficult. You said something about having tor register to enter places.
        I agree, that combination of exercise can only be helpful and each of us will find what works for our body.

      • Yes. It’s called Leave home safe. You have to scan a QR code for restaurants, gyms etc. Then if someone tests positive for C within 30 days you get notified and should go for a test. It’s morphing into a surveillance app – it also carries your vaccination data. A gift for authoritarian regimes. They can track everywhere you go.

      • That is scary. Yesterday I heard that the US government has a nifty new face recognition program they intend to roll out to prevent fraudulant unemployment claims (they say) but which will be a wonderful tool when the inevitable happens and we lose our democracy in the next election to the fascists.

  2. The worst news of the week is that the New York Times has purchased Wordle, for a figure in the seven figures. Good for the guy who created it, but here comes the paywall and fees. Since I refuse to register or subscribe the the NYT, I couldn’t even read their article about it, but there are plenty of summations on the tech sites.

    I’ve thought more than a few times about the terrible irony: being placed in isolation is considered the worst possible punishment in prison, and yet the realities of prison isolation — sensory deprivation, lack of human contact, et.al — have been imposed on entire populations. It’s no wonder that depression, self-harm, anxiety, and violence have increased. I thank God every day that I live where I do, and that life has generally returned to what it was at the beginning of 2020.

    Certain accomodations still have to be made — I needed to wear a mask when I last visited the eye doctor — but otherwise I rarely think of the pandemic. Of course, my circumstances play a role. As a self-employed person, I’m my own HR department, and working on the docks has meant that I could continue to work from the beginning of the pandemic. In my area, things seem to have settled into a live and let live pattern: some wear masks, some don’t, some continue to isolate, others don’t. But the kids are in school and playing together at recess, and a meal out has become routine again. In a way, Dorothy Parker’s famous poem seems apt, particularly the last line.

    “Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.”

    • The different attitudes and approaches to covid are an interesting real-time experiment. I am pretty relaxed but my wife is paranoid, mainly because each day the ‘experts’ spout nonsense about how we must achieve zero covid. Not possible without extreme damage. Even if I were not mandated to do so I would wear a mask in close proximity to others but generally I don’t feel any compelling need. To me it boils down to commonsense and acting responsibly. Its like crossing the road on a pedestrian red light. If I am alone I may do so if I think it is safe. If there are children there I will wait so they don’t copy me – they can’t make judgements so young. I just want to get on with life. I hope Wordle doesn’t go behind a paywall. I’ve only just discovered it. 3 days and a 3-4-4 record so far. I start with something like Audio or Audit to test the vowels!

  3. I have ample time to meditate today on a lounger at the Revier Hotel in Dubai, resting my leg after a tumble at Expo 2020 ( crossing a sprung rope representation of the wood-wide web, as invited ). Perhaps it was, after all, an inappropriate activity for a 62-year old!
    Saw my first ever Indian Roller up the coast at the weekend – “beautiful plumage the …”.
    I think I could do with some small (or big) red envelopes as Mrs. H. has headed off to the Malls!
    Best wishes, as ever, David

    • At 62 you have the right to inappropriate things David. I hope the damage is not serious. Probably warmer in Dubai than here. Cold enough to freeze a Norwegian Blue. Meditate with a glass of something cold.

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