Monday, September 06, 2004

Up on the Roof/'Those Ukraine girls really knock me out...'
As is my wont, I found myself flipping between two extremes on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Saturday night I was on a rooftop on a small, lush island called Sai Kung enjoying charcoal grilled steak, red Chilean wine, mixed greens salad and listening to Andrea Bocelli and Dire Straits on a boombox with three expats, a South African reporter, a New Zealand coworker and an English artist.
Below was the first lawn I had seen in a year and above were the first stars. As the lights of Shenzhen and Hong Kong are too bright and the smog is too thick, constellations are unknown except, I suppose, in astronomy textbooks. And even on Sai Kung, which is a 40 minute or so bus ride from my shopping mall cum, residence past a maximum security prison, a few tidy used car lots and many small, quaint looking stores and homes, the stars were few, but the few I saw were memorable and bright.
Sai Kung itself recalls the small beachfront/harbor California towns I've seen in real life or the Mexican and Greek ones I've only read about or seen on screen. White stucco homes and apartments, small bars and eateries, a butcher that sells thick sirloins cut right in front of you for blissed-out, sun-struck expats and even a Jehova's Witness Meeting Hall for others, it's surrounded by an overwhelmingly lush green tropical growth that seems poised to swallow it all. Adding to the Eden/impending green death feel are snakes, and even a large, yellow and black diamond backed Burmese python or two, which aren't uncommon, said my colleague.
His second floor apartment, with a sea-view balcony, sits on a small patch of land that includes an even smaller square of tidy lawn, perhaps 15-20 feet by 10-12 feet. A stooped, elderly Chinese woman was patiently and repeatedly sprinkling it with a large watering can for part of the afternoon as a white cat and a piebald one batted one another and lazed about in the afternoon heat. As I marveled at Real Lawn, I asked my friend if the caretaker cut it with scisssors.
"It never gets cut," he claimed. "Some kind of Chinese miracle wonder grass, I reckon."
About 24 hours later I was down from the rooftop and on stool in a Hong Kong gay bar called The Edge waiting to see a Ukrainian girl group formerly named "Via-gra" (get it?) and now called - due to, er, legal difficulties, Nu Virgos. Individually, they are Vera ("I'm Vera! I'm very happy!"), Nadya ("I'm Nadya. I'm a person of extremes!") and Svetlana ("I'm Svetlana. I'm ambitious and emotional!"). They dress like Wan Chai hookers and would like to be the next Spice Girls, but if Sony Music Asia keeps showcasing them in gay bars, let's just say it's not likely they'll be making the leap, like Bette Midler did, from the queer crowd to the mainstream.
More on Nu Virgos later, though. I'm writing a feature for The Standard and will put it (or a reasonable facsimilie) here in a day or two.

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