On a cold December evening, the above was when I went near the harbour to take a selfie with the famous Bruce Lee statue.
Do you know what is common between cities like New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Melbourne, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong?
They are all cities of the middle class. Built on the back of dream-bearing and hard-working citizens is what made these cities so unique that we love them. These are the world cities where any person can aspire to go and make dreams come true. They are the cities of the middle class, with small swathes of the rich and the poor. Not the other way around.
When you take that main aspect ratio away, then it is no longer the same city that we loved. I mean what would Monte-Carlo be like if it is no longer a place for the upper class?
Yeah, you can still call it by the same name. But, in spirit, it’s not the same.
Let there be light!
I warmly embraced this childhood dream of spending at least one Christmas and New Year's in each of the major world cities. It is the kind of dream that would mostly remain a dream for a middle-class born in a country like India, but it may be a ‘walk-in-the-park’ for someone born into aristocracy.
But during one Christmas, a part of that dream came true for me when I got to spend an awe-inspiring time in Hong Kong. I was there in the months of December to January (2014-2015).
From one of the best international airports I have ever seen that sits on a man-made island to the fastest speed-train to breeze into the city within minutes, from swimming in a rooftop pool on the hotel terrace to having a whole gym for myself, from going hot-dog hunting in the narrowest food lanes to eating perfect English breakfast in the morning, from hailing a taxi with a wave of my hand to swiping the Octopus card on the world’s busiest metro commute...
From taking the Star-Ferry several times in a day to watching the ‘Symphony of Lights’ from the other side of the harbor, from taking the train all the way to the ‘Peak’ to walking the entire loop with billion-dollar views, from hiking some of the best urban trails to taking the iconic double-decker bus, from sipping a drink in the world’s highest bar to sipping a several on the streets during New Years eve...
From getting one of the many neon light-sticks illuminating the crowd on 31st evening to watching firecrackers at midnight, from exploring the never-ending lanes of Kowloon to exploring the pristine central business district, from walking busy-busy streets on the day of New Years to shopping with perfect haggling skills at the Ladies Market, from taking a cable-car ride to the Po-Lin monastery on January 1st morning to wearing a three-piece suit to my office longue at the International Commerce Centre.
It is the best Christmas trip I have had so far.
While in the city, I had to have my ‘green day’ there too. Wearing this puffed-up jacket that looked like a life jacket I spent hours walking the entire loop of the peak trail.
One of the things I remember while walking this beautiful nature trail is this little girl (6 or 7 years old) in the front singing “Jingle bells, jingle bells” loudly, reminding everyone what time of the year it was.
With mansions literally costing billions here, it was indeed a billion-dollar view.
Hong Kong has an open-bottle freedom. As in – you can buy booze, open the bottle and start drinking and walking on the streets, especially during New Year's. You see that crux of the city in the middle of the city skyline, the one like a beacon of lights with neon buildings and that giant wheel? I was right in the middle of it, among the crowd when the clock struck New Year's. I didn’t take my camera or my bag with me that night. Just me free-handed, living the moment in the present.
Crux of the city and its Season's display!
Of all the things I ate there, I can’t forget the tasty roasted duck noodles and also the biggest apple I have seen in my life which was almost as large as my two hands.
But among all the fun, some work too. I had then invested in this longue office membership, which allowed me to use office space for a day or two no matter which major city I travel to in the world, smart right? It’s like taking your office with you – For example, if I am in New York City I could use the office space near the Empire State Building, near the Freedom Tower or the office space near the Shard, near The Gherkin Building when in London.
The buildings looked beautiful at night and day!
So I did go and finish some end-of-the-year work at my office in the 8th tallest building in the world – the International Commerce Center.
Finally catching a flight with this epic view of the runway. An accomplished feeling inside telling me that I deserve every happiness I work hard towards, for it was not an aristocracy ‘walk-in-the-park’ for me.