Everything changes, everything is the same


It is a mark of how hot and humid Singapore has been that as we walked through Tin Hau this morning, the air felt cool and dry. We loaded La Serpiente Negra into my backpack and carried her into the MTR, then took a ride down to Admiralty to eat junk food at the Triple Os in Pacific Place.

Everything had changed, and everything was still the same.

Pacific Place is a large and shiny shopping mall full of shops selling expensive things: Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols, and so on. It’s now been selling expensive stuff for 25 years, and to celebrate they had some elaborate trumpet shapes hanging from the ceiling in the main atrium, with memories from people who had visited the mall a quarter of a century ago projected inside them. As we walked up to look inside the trumpets, a member of staff presented me with an enormous marshmallow lollipop, to commemorate this happy anniversary. Such charity, before I’d even bought anything, almost flies in the face of celebrating 25 years of commerce, but I’ll never refuse a free piece of confectionary.

We walked over to Triple Os, still hidden in the underbelly of the mall. It used to occupy a fairly large area of the supermarket/food court down there, but now it’s been reduced to just four or five tables and a counter. Still, the burgers are just as moist and delicious as they ever were, so we chowed down, tried to feed our child some vegetable puree, then left, heading into central Hong Kong to buy more baby gear.

We took the tram. This hasn’t changed since long before we moved to Hong Kong, except the French bought it at the start of the decade and jacked the price up, first by 20c to 2.20 Hong Kong dollars, and then again more recently to 2.30 Hong Kong dollars, in another blatant act of price gouging.

Our daughter is outgrowing her sleep sack, the bag we stuff her into when it’s time for bed, so we bought her a larger one, which should cope with the next six kilos of growth, then went down the street to the Landmark, another shopping mall, to drink coffee in another basement, outside the Gucci store.

Le Serpiente Negra had never accompanied us there for coffee before, and was excited to clamber up the three steps leading to the Gucci store, then walk forward to lick the glass of the door. The shop assistants were very welcoming, although to be honest I was scared that our daughter would either career into a display and knock it over, or try to eat a handbag, and either way cost me a month’s salary in damaged leather goods. At least there was one shop assistant who gave our daughter a sneering look of annoyance, but that did little to dissuade her from her constant salivary assault on the front door.

The main event this afternoon was witnessing the wedding of my wife’s sister and her husband-to-be, a slightly surreal event in Hong Kong City Hall, which is a building containing a library, a concert hall, a registry office and a reasonably-priced cafeteria. I signed some forms, we photographed the happy couple and I ruminated on how, in line with everything else today, they were still the same people they were before, just slightly changed.

Then we went to another mall, IFC, for celebratory drinks. That was fun until the resident DJ arrived and played mandatory monotonous house music, which made us sad, so we took ourselves away for a walk up to the bookshop on the top floor of the mall. Although it’s the same size it always was, it felt cramped and shrunk. It was a risk to take our daughter there, with all the tempting books to pull off the shelves, but she behaved herself through a heroic exercise of self control, until it got close to 7, when fatigue caught up and she broke down in loud wails.

Home, bath, and bed. My feet hurt and my legs are sore from all this walking about: I hope tomorrow is easier, otherwise on Monday morning I’ll be an utter mess.


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