Our side business.

The secret is out and I am busted. Well it had to happen someday. It was only a matter of time.

It was those empty bottles I kept asking for, from friends and family. Empty alcohol bottles. They were for decoration purposes. You know? When you can get the top cut off, and add some jazz and make it into a candle stand? With a little more innovation they can also hang off branches and parapets! Well, I did use them for that too. I had to – time and again, to keep up appearances. People attended those parties and did the compulsory “Aaah and Oohh” when they saw the decoration, so I thought I am safe. I even sent off legitimate Instagram pictures for the world to see. Up until that fateful day, when RB caught on to it. And I was busted. It’s true that, only he knows the actual use of those bottles. But once two people know something, its no longer a secret.

It started quite unexpectedly. Our coast was hit by a sand storm, and as the sand swirled, then rose and fell, I took a long walk, alone on the beach. It was empty, as most people don’t like sand in their eyes. But I am an old pro. I have survived many such storms, and know how to walk without getting sand in them eyes. We had camels on the beach in my childhood days. I have learnt a lot from them. It comes in handy now and again.

I heard someone approach me. Since I had 2 dogs with me, I was not worried. But lets face it, strolling in a mild sand filled hurricane, using a specialized walking technique of avoiding sand in the eyes – how many people can do it? Not many, and I knew almost all who could. It was an old friend, one who could, even play football, in such conditions. Our local boys are not the mild variety. Football presides over everything, even earning a living, so what’s a sand storm?

Soon we were walking side by side and he came up with a business proposition. Now had he asked me any other time, I would have run home and become a goody goody girl and gone all judgmental about him and his gang. But I was wired up that day, (so the walk in a sand storm!) and feeling very rebellious. In these kinds of moods I should be locked up with only bread and water, because I make very impulsive and stubborn decisions. The idea was extremely dangerous, and it would make me an immediate rogue. I loved it. After he left I sat down, in the now falling rain, and imagined rough seas, illicit pirates and shady whispers. How perfect!

It had to be done in a very clandestine manner. Every 3rd Monday, (There was a researched logic to it. The beach has few late night revelers and the cops normally take a breather. And – the empty bottle collection would get quite topped up) I would sit on my deck. Around 1 am, far into the sea, I would see a light swaying rhythmically. Eight times right and left. If it was a red light, the show was a go. My contact had a great network of spies, so on rare occasions when the light was its original yellow, the mission would be aborted immediately and all traces of our meetings were instantly scrubbed away.

When I would see the red light, I would send back a signal. My room lights going on and off, 4 times. In the next five minutes, the husband and me would be on the beach with our trawler. It was customized to move smoothly in the sand. Within 10 minutes money and barrel loads of liquor were exchanged. 30 minutes later, the bottles were filled with amber colored aromatic alcohol, and given back to our contact.

45 minutes every 3rd Monday was filled with thrilling, surreptitious, unlawful activity.

And now my bootlegging days are over. All because of one smart aleck who thought he was FBI’s second in command. But hey! We cared for our clients. The bottles were used but sterilized. We always, always, refilled them with good quality alcohol. It never had boot polish!! We ourselves served them once in a while, in bigger gatherings. It hit faster and gave a wonderful euphoric feeling. And lastly and more importantly gave us good money along with the thrills.

All in all, it was good going, till our racket went kaput. Now I will actually have to use all those empty bottles for decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong, city of Buzz. I love it. The noise, the restaurants, the loud bargaining, the shopping, the sights. Everything. Don’t get fooled by its size. It looks like a small island, but hides inside it, a plethora of tourist attractions and varied entertainment joints.

Its another city, I mark as “ An ever going project” for I will keep visiting it and loving it.

Places to visit

Lantau Islands and Ngong Ping Monastery.

This is near the airport. Take the MTR to Tung Chung. And from there take the cable car to Lantau. If possible (and if you are not deathly scared of heights) take the crystal car. 1) This is faster and you don’t have to wait that long in the ques. 2) It has a glass bottom, so you can see all the hills and waterfalls and beautiful trekking paths on the way.

Once in Lantau, there is a lot to do. We just went and saw the Giant Buddha statue and visited the Monastery.

The Steps Leading to Buddha.
The Steps Leading to Buddha.
The Great Buddha.
The Great Buddha.

Here is the web site, which gives all other options for Lantau.

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/au/see-do/great-outdoors/outlying-islands/lantau-island/index.jsp

If you reach in time for lunch, do have a meal, at the Monastery. Its pure veg and rated very highly. They also have a café, for snacks etc.

Shopping inside Lantau was prohibitive.

Once the cable car takes you back down, you can go to the Shopping Mall, near the entrance of the cable car office. Its an outlet mall, but has all the best brands, Hong Kong has to offer. Definitely worth a visit.

Lot of restaurants within the mall area,

TIME REQUIRED: If shopping and seeing Lantau in leisure and in depth, I would say give this a full day.

The Peak

It’s a train journey! A small cute train journey. The Funicular takes you to the peak. Please don’t go on holidays, the queues are toooo long. And equally long to come down.

The view is awesome in the day. But – spectacular at night. I’ve been both in the day as well at night. I would definitely suggest the night. Many restaurants in that area, but preferably book elsewhere. Food wasn’t great.

If need be, one can come down the peak in a taxi also. Its expensive, but the view is amazing.

The View
The View

Lan Kwai Fong.

The party never stops rocking. One bar over the other, in front of another, next to another. Though one must visit it, at least once, to see and experience true debauchery, this trip, I was a bit put off. Every bar is trying to beat the other, with louder music. While walking down the street, the auditory nerves are bombarded with retro and the next second, house and at the same time Latino numbers from the opposite bar. It’s confusing and frankly nerve racking. To make the best of the music, locals get their own drinks, and stand on the road and drink, whilst enjoying the music screeching from the bars. It’s a no car zone.

After a quick tour of The Lan Kwai Fong, lovingly called LKF, we went up one street. (Middle of LKF – a staircase goes upwards.) , To Wyndham Street. The bars were classier, crowds better and more importantly, the bars were spaced well.

Try The Wine Bar, and Tivo. Great music, good service and enjoyable.

LKF is a good place to have lunch.

Other places I know are worth visiting, but I have not visited are Ocean Park and Disney. Great for kids. Ocean Park is good for older kids too.

Stanley Beach is also ranked high, in the TO DO list.

Walk along the Avenue Of Stars. It’s a promenade, very akin to Hollywood Walk of Fame. Very interesting.

Lounge Bars

Hong Kong is big on lounge bars. The latest must-go bar is the OZONE. It’s on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton hotel. The view is unbelievable. The bar itself is nice, great drinks and the roof is open air. It’s an amazing experience. Not reservations required.

SEVVA. Situated on a rooftop, over looking the ocean and the high profile bank buildings of Hong Kong, this bar should be number one on your list of to dos. Fantastic service, great food and tantalizing views. They also have a restaurant inside. It has great reviews, though we have never eaten there.

10 Charter Road, Hong Kong. +85225371388

The other lounge bars I have read about are Aqua. And Dragon I

Restaurants.

Chilli Fagara. Reservations needed. It’s a very small restaurant and very popular. The service is pathetic, but if you are a worshipper of spicy food, forget everything and go there. Do have their beer. One – it will go down really well with spicy food Two- They serve it in a bowl, which is a fun way to have it.

51A Graham Street Hong Kong. +85228933330

Knutsford Terrace. Many restaurants. We love Paparazzi.

Tsim Sha Tsui.

Boqueria In Lang Kwai Fong. Great Spanish food. Good Meal if you want something different.

Dragon I. Opposite Lang Kwai Fong. Fabulous Chinese Dim Sums. Lovely ambiance. It turns into a lounge bar at night.

30 Wyndham Street. +85231101222

Amouse Bouche. If you feel like having a four-course meal, this is the place you must go to. Reserve in advance. You will not regret it.

The Hennessey. 256 Hennessey Street. +85228913666-

Flying Pan Yup! That’s how it is spelt. The Chinese version of Frying! Wyndham Street. After a night of pub hopping in LKF head up one street to this all night eggery. Omlettes, fried eggs etc. A fantastic meal to soak up all that alcohol.

 

 

The Zen.

Many years ago, I was suffering from severe vertigo. There were days when I was fearful of even moving out on a crowded street. Driving was out of question. After a year or so of trying various remedies, homeopathy and acupressure did the job.

Ecstatic, I started kickboxing. Everybody around me lost it. Kickboxing is one of the most strenuous, limb stretching, accident-prone workouts, one can pursue. I started with a group workout, which was a disaster. My legs could barely lift themselves. Reaching a target at head level was an impossibility. My punches had no zest. My body ached and pained and hurt. But something about martial arts has always held me enthralled. So even when the group broke up, I started private lessons with my Sensei.

Now, when I kick way above my head and my punches push him back, I think back and am so glad that I did not listen to the naysayers. Of course I have bruises everyday, and sometimes bleeding or sore knuckles, but for me it’s a character trait, and not debasement of beauty.

I have no clue, who told my friend’s husband I kick box? But, we got talking and he sent me a book. And it has consumed me. Till then I thought, ZEN was another three letter, celebrity concept.

I primarily learnt kickboxing as a defense technique. A goon has slapped me in college, and I have never forgotten it. I wanted to learn how to fight back, or at least cause some sort of damage.

As I would gear up to start my workouts with Sir, I would gather up all the anger I felt towards random people in my life and I would punch and kick at them. Their faces and actions would show up on the boxing bag and I would have a good go at it. It left me extremely satisfied and worked out. But sometimes at night I would have dreams, that my punches have absolutely no effect. They would bounce off the target like I was hitting a huge mountain of a man, with a non – effective small, plastic toy. These dreams are my nightmare.

As I grew stronger and my hands could hit harder, Sir would keep warning me to not hit anyone too hard. He felt I could do great damage if I connected properly. “And that’s the point, right? “ I would tell myself. I have learnt kickboxing to do damage and to beat up assholes. I was waiting for an opportunity.

It arrived when I was wearing a salwar kameez and going for a condolence meeting. To cut the pre drama short, I was confronted by 2 people, one man and one woman, in the middle of a very busy road. They were both extremely aggressive and angry, and trying to rile me up. At one point I was holding off the woman with one hand and the man with another. My feet firmly rooted to the ground, both my hands busy controlling them, my eyes were digging into the man’s. He tried to shake me off, but failed. Finally I let go and he threatened to hit me. I moved closer to him and crossed my hands, and asked him to go right ahead. He was so shocked, that after a few seconds, (which felt like a few hours), he backed off. I got back into the car. At that time I did not know that I was practicing ZEN.

Anger without action and action without anger. Anger, blocks sensible action. It’s a haze in front of our eyes and we keep missing the target. Action without anger is very effective.  The body remains relaxed, and just before the moment of contact, all energy is collected and pushed into that punch or kick. My all time hero, Bruce Lee could punch within an inch of space between himself and his opponent, and have his opponent moving a few feet backwards.

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough – Bruce Lee

With my thoughts running all over, ZEN is something I really need to learn. A few days back, I just could not sleep. I actually held my skull and pleaded with my brains to calm down.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee.

For a wonderful all consuming, rivetting read – “Zen in the Martial Arts” by Joe Hyams.

Stay Calm and ……..ZEN!!

 

 

Dentists.

There is this hotel, near my house. When you drive up to the lobby, the car vibrates terribly, because the road is made that way. The tires grate on the driveway and make terrible sounds. It instantly makes me feel as if I am on a dentist’s chair, and my teeth are being ground with some offensive drill. As it is, I am not too fond of this hotel, and then to arrive to it as if I have just visited a dentist – not happening!!

sets the "teeth" on edge.
sets the “teeth” on edge.

Sometime back, I was called to cater to an opening. I went to meet the client, and when I heard she is a dentist, I shuddered. She saw it and said, with great dignity, “We are fairly painless now, you know”. I catered, but I could not congratulate her!

So they say!!!
So they say!!!

As a kid, mom took us to a “Pediatric Dentist”. Pediatric – my foot. She was the spawn of an evil witch, destined to be more evil than her mother. She had a shrieky voice, rough hands and absolutely no dentist – chair – side, manners. She probed and scraped in wild glee, and kids were not allowed to show their disapproval. I think – no I am sure she did not like kids – that’s why she became their dentist. Easy prey for torture techniques! She had a very, very sweet assistant, and I would always ask for her. One day she was gone. Apparently, one was not supposed to be nice to kids! The day, she had my sister unconscious under general anesthesia, was the day I complained to my dad. And that was the end of our visits to her. I don’t know if she still exists. I am sure, her torture drove one of her patients, to grow up, and kill her. Even now, when I pass the building, which housed her clinic, every hair on my body stands up.

She practiced war moves on us kids!
She practiced war moves on us kids!

Then, mom decided, I needed braces. Which I must have, as I sucked my thumb, till an unmentionable age. I don’t remember the first dentist. But as the braces went in and he tightened the wires, I remember feeling so upset, that I pinched him. Hard! Then at some point the orthodontist changed. He must have been unable to bear the pinches. The second one was a sweet fellow, but he decided every six months, that I needed the braces, for six more months. Mom had stopped coming with me for visits, so, I one day told her he shut down his practice. Just like that. She believed me – perhaps for the last time, and changed the doctor. The third, was told categorically by me, that the braces have to come out. He was not a good doctor, or I must have snarled nastily, because he complied, and put me in retainers. I threw those out a few years ago, from the pile of memorabilia my mom handed to me recently.

images (1)

So you see, I have a valid – morbid fear of dentists. I am not an inherently empathetic person. Mostly, I would like to give a dithering, whining person a slap on the face, and ask them to snap out of it. But someone has to just mention an impending visit to the dentist, and I become all soggy inside. That person is my hero till the visit is done.

All this is revealing itself, because I had teeth extraction yesterday. Yup! Two, of them. Nasty it was. In the middle of the night, when I was trying to sleep, 12 hours after the surgery, the clot dislodged itself and my mouth was full of blood. I resembled a cross between a vampire and a werewolf – on a full moon night. After the husband and me leapt out of bed, and called the doctor, and all the blood dribbling down my face was cleaned up, I went into further panic, because the brushing of the teeth with good minty, mouth cleansing toothpaste was pushed further away.

Today morning, even the dog was not willing to meet me.