Passion People

By Jane | January 4, 2014

8,008 km so far.

This morning Stephen taught his last lululemon class in Hong Kong (of this trip). It was a full house and a fun, friendly group, many of whom had been to one of his other Hong Kong classes.

Also, he got to say Ishvarapranidhana a lot, which is always fun.

Beware Of All Enterprises That Require New Clothes

After class we did something we’ve not done in 9 months: we bought new clothes! As you can imagine, after 9 months of wearing the same two outfits over and over again, some of our clothes are coming apart at the seams, and in the middle too. We could probably have gotten a little more wear out of our stained, holey shirts, but we decided since this was the last lululemon we’d see in a good while, we’d better stock up.

On a cycling tour, every new piece of clothing is a negotiation. We maintain a strict one-in one-out policy. If you get a new t-shirt, one of the old ones has to go, so in our case, “stocking up” meant one new shirt for me and two for Stephen.

Now, to fit into our slimmed-down pannier space, we are also planning on getting rid of a few things without replacing them.

Private Cupping

At the bar last night, Nathan had invited us to his place for a coffee tasting. He wanted an opinion on his roast from a fellow coffee nerd, and no one is better suited to that task than Stephen.

Nathan is crazy about coffee. In his small Hong Kong-sized flat, he has a roaster, a couple of scales, bags of green coffee beans, a pro grinder, a kettle complete with thermometer and special pour-over spout, and lots of other coffee paraphernalia.

Nathan's compact coffee roaster.

Nathan’s compact coffee roaster.

Stephen loved nerding out on coffee with someone who might be even more into it than he is. I love to hear anyone talk about whatever it is they have a fiery passion for, so I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the two guys bang on about beans.

Nathan wants to open a specialty roaster and coffee shop in Hong Kong. We say, go for it Nathan! You have the passion, the skill, and the energy to make it happen! What are you waiting for?

Family Stories

From Nathan’s flat, you can just see the corner of Hong Kong Cemetery, where my grandfather happens to be buried. After a few cups of coffee, the three of us walked over to the cemetery.

The expanse of Hong Kong Cemetery.

The expanse of Hong Kong Catholic Cemetery.

I had been here with my mom and sister on my last trip to Hong Kong, but my memory was fuzzy about the location of the grave, so we stopped in at the office to enquire.

The caretaker was new, only having been there for two years, but I could tell things were much more organised than on my last visit. I gave him the first name I know my grandfather by: Jimmy. The caretaker checked the computer, but only found the name Julius – it was then I remembered that this was his real name, and Jimmy was just a nickname.

The caretaker didn’t have the exact location of the plot, only a section number. Armed with that and my vague memory of the headstone, we wandered through the graveyard until we found it.

Jimmy died suddenly in 1953, at the age of 49, so of course, I never knew him. Still, it was very moving when I found the headstone. There was an inscription from my grandmother, my aunt, and my mom there as well, which added to the emotion.

It’s hard to reconcile the people I know with the people they must have been 60 years ago. Visiting the cemetery helped me to imagine what their lives might have been like and how adrift they must have felt when they unexpectedly lost a husband and a father.

Rose and Jimmy in Shanghai, 1940.

Rose and Jimmy in Shanghai, 1940.

Jimmy’s death radically changed the course of those three lives.

My grandmother, at age 39, moved herself and her two little girls to Canada, far away from everything she’d ever known. She found an apartment and a job and made a new life for her family, so far removed from the old life it’s inconceivable.

When we returned to the cemetery office, we spoke again to the caretaker, to let him know we’d found Jimmy’s plot. The caretaker pulled out a huge hand-drawn map he’d created of the cemetery. When he found the right plot, we saw that there was a note saying “Jimmy Vorner” but the official data wasn’t filled in.

Because the gravestone says “Jimmy” and the official documents all say “Julius”, they had not been able to match the site to the database and the official books. The caretaker was obviously passionate about his job documenting the people who are laid to rest in the cemetery. He was thrilled that I could confirm that Julius and Jimmy were in fact the same person.

Noodle Shopping

Our coffee drinking had left the three of us famished. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay house dozens of noodle shops, all indistinguishable to the unpracticed eye, so we happily followed Nathan to the one he likes the best.

The owners squeezed us in to the packed-full canteen (always a good sign), and after navigating the complications of ordering something vegetarian, we were served three generous steaming bowls of noodle soup. While travelling, we have a don’t ask don’t tell policy when it comes to soup broth, but we suspected it was actually vegetarian, or at the worst, very weak chicken stock.

The noodles were great, and completely different than any bowl of noodles we’ve had thus far on our trip.

After all the Western-style food we’ve eaten over the last few weeks, it was fantastic to get back to more traditional Chinese food, especially in such a great venue, where the owners and staff are obviously passionate about serving the best bowl of noodles on the street.

It won’t be long until we have no choice but to eat simply like this every day, and we are looking forward to it.  

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3 comments

  1. Comment by Scot

    Scot Reply January 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Great post about Jimmy, and the pictures of his grave. I didn’t know that was there, or that you had visited it before. I’m glad you were able to find it again. I love that picture of Rose and Jimmy. Thanks for the post.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane January 30, 2014 at 1:10 am

      Amazing that you didn’t know about our last visit there! I guess that’s what blogs are for. Glad to hear you’re back safe in the land of internets.

  2. Comment by Mauricio

    Mauricio Reply January 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing Geeking out on coffee and such a moving entry about your grandfather Jane. From all of us here in Los Angeles we want to wish you two a terrific New Year with continued health and excellent adventures.

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