It took some time to realise you weren’t there, but it was a moment when I needed you the most – the chill on the train had picked up and my need for you as a blanket was paramount.
My hand dug deep into the bag where you are always kept on our journeys, only to find the space empty, vacant of your little threads.
Then it dawned on me. You have been abandoned, little Pashy. I saw the image immediately: placed on the shower hook, still sandy from our visit to Byron Bay beach.
It is there you sit, waiting expectantly for another home: a bin, perhaps? or a lady with exquisite taste?
Pink Pashmina you have been a champion companion and I am dearly sorry for our parting.
Yours always and forever,
A freezing cold Natty
When travelling solo I have become accustom to wearing a clueless expression, confusion is predominantly in the twitchy brow and the oval-shaped mouth formed from constantly muttering “what?” And as with any new place the most simple of tasks first need serious consideration, like making a cup of tea: where’s the cup, the bag, the sugar, the milk? Shit, let there be milk! No spoons though, just plastic knives and straws. I opt for the straw then investigate the eatery court; the special is Hong Kong fish ball soup. I nod in agreement and hope they don’t think I’m an English snob with my cup of tea.
There is a line in the film Starksy and Hutch where they arrest an Asian guy and the gist of the line goes: “I can’t help you, you all look the same to me!” to which Owen Wilson replies, “that’s hilarious you guys all look the same to us!” It really makes me question perspective: what do they see? As I order some Hong Kong soup, the fish looks like (and tastes like) starched tofu with fish flavouring in a delicious creamy liquid drowning in noodles, topped with spring onions. I wonder if the British roast baffles them, too. The array of meats: chicken, lamb or gammon? Why are there two gravies? The selection of sauces – mint or cranberry – is it a dip, a side or a what?
The things I have become so accustom to can be alien to others and it’s always fun to remember that first time you sample any one thing because your reaction is slow and measured and careful.
I take my beige looking soup to a table, along with my tea and straw, and observe the way others consume their meal – head ducked to bowl height, chop sticks poised, shovelling the noodles in with little elegance – this is a sign of enjoyment here. It still looks a little messy though and I revert back to normal height and grab a spoon.
I’m taken to a chair. It looks like the kind you find in a mental institute. The ladies hand gestures to sit on it, or somehow in it. I climb, fully clothed, as she places a small towel over the areas that will be patted, thumbed, knuckled and smoothed over. This covers my back, shoulders, arms, neck and head – which is my favourite, total bliss!
Then suddenly the dear lady judo-chop-thumps the shit out of my back, it doesn’t hurt, but it’s such a surprise that it causes a very British response of “oh right.” The buzzer alarms us that the fifteen minutes are up, the towel is whipped off and she sweetly says “finish now.”
I reply with a thousand thanks, but she doesn’t speak much English and just nods awkwardly – I hope she understand my gratitude for literally pounding the anxiety out of my spindly body.
This was my first experience of Hong Kong and an Asian style massage. It certainly did the trick!
Next up: hot shower.