Monday, June 27, 2005

 
Chapel of Love
''Who gets married at 10:45 on a Monday morning?'' I groused to myself at 9 am today while sniffing shirt pits to find my cleanest dirty shirt and carelessly sorting to find matching socks with only one or two holes.
Well, Todd and Noi do, among others in Hong Kong.
Todd's a burly, bourbon-and-rust-voiced Chicago native in his late 20s who runs The Standard's website and Noi is his Thai intended. It was a nice day, actually, for a white wedding; a rare morning of sunshine after almost a straight week or more of morning monsoons.
The nuptials were at the marriage registry building in Hong Kong Park, the park being one of many landmark sites/and tourist spots I still hadn't seen after a year here. It's like living in NYC and missing the Statue of Liberty or not going to the top of the Empire State Building. Or like living in Newark, Ohio and never touring the "World's Largest Basket" - the 7-story corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company shaped like an titanic woven basket.
Fifteen of us, mostly coworkers who sit within 10 feet of Todd at the office, plus two Thai female friends of Noi's and a couple or three strays were there for a ceremony that was mercifully short and sweet. It's a marriage-go-round in the registry. At least three other couples were swearing to foresake all others for eternity in the modern one-story building that's divided into a series of identical small sterile rooms that resemble mortuary funeral chapels except with a large table in front of the guest chairs and the Wedding March rather than Amazing Grace or Rock of Ages piped in softly and ceaselessly as the vows are read from multi-lingual cue cards held by the couples.
Noi, who speaks a little English (Todd is kinda Thai fluent) had a Thai translator. The ring keeper/bearer was our thrice-married executive editor and the official witness was our managing editor, currently on marriage no. 4. Others among us were also serial divorce offenders and our pre-wedding palaver was largely about our various ceremonies - from pomp and pageantry to near poverty - before reality enused.
But I confess I teared up a little when Todd and Noi kissed. Damn. Why can't it stay like that?
Lunch was a short walk through the park to a posh hotel, The Conrad. As coworkers and I sat at white linen covered tables and bitched about having to go to work afterwards I paused, more or less thoughtfully.
"Wait," I thought. "I'm in Hong Kong. I'm in Hong-fucking-Kong on a sunny day eating lobster, sushi, oysters, prime rib, dim-sum, tasty noodles with some button mushroom thingies, fresh strawberries, high end vanilla ice cream and swilling good wine on someone else's tab in a five star hotel and trying to subtly leer at fashion model caliber women of at least three races fluttering about in thin silk dresses. Just what the hell am I complaining about?"
PS On a completely different subject, if you'd like to see real slices of Shenzhen life as documented in stunnng black and white photographs, I recommend cutting and pasting this url and checking it out. It's a Chinese language site and you have to scroll down to find the photos. It's well worth the effort. http://www.6park.com/life2/messages/16653.html
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