I love fortune-tellers.
That’s how much of an idiot I am. I swear by Master Fong’s proclamation that I will be married by 2X and will live to be 85, even though my 2Xth birthday has passed and nothing has come to fruition. I also love cheese, chocolate, the smell of old books, big buff men and small femme women, in no particular order. I don’t like my parents but I do love my mum. There’s no contradiction in that. Most of us are a bundle of likes and hates, have and have-nots, and some are more ridiculous than others.
Everything I love I also inevitably hate, and that extends to this city. It occurs to me that there are only 2 types of women on the MTR these days, in the work-hour rush. 1. People with shiny bouffants in see-through tops and designer handbags who are fronting gloriously and has it all made, 2. People in sad, shapeless garments who fronted till they capitulate and now look as if they’ve been bulldozed over by a tank. The former uses too much La Mer, the latter doesn’t use enough deodorant. They are like cautionary tales: either you front extravagantly and one day crack, or you hold on, capitulate, age terribly and die eventually.
Then there’s the third group, the minority with their art mag subscriptions, home-made haircuts and hemp handbags. They busk in public and they wear their hearts on their sleeves when it comes to politics. For a girl who has never dared raise her hand in class and who drifts through life trying to please everyone, public debate and demonstration is a frightening prospect. And herein lies the split – on one side you have people passionately defending their right to freedom, on the other, you have people passionately insisting on their right to ignore the shouting and get on with their high-tea-set and thousand-dollar haircut – I’ve paid for that caviar, thank you very much.
Suffice to say that this is not a great city for good mental health, if you don’t fall into a designated group, or adored minority. You really lose it, and not in a polite, garden-variety depression kind of way, but a rooting-through-the-bin-for-lunch, hallucinating-in-your-sleep kind of way. The denouement? Despite our many fancy imported stuff, like the new Topshop, and the new Cafe Muji, we don’t really have much clue when it comes to safeguarding our happiness. The mental hospital is still a spectre, public hospitals are over-stretched, and private psychiatrists (and psychologists) cost the Earth. (and are sometimes just as bewildered as you are) It’s an unacknowledged fact that the fight for happiness is sometimes just as acute as the fight for democracy – and the two shouldn’t always be simplistically conflated.
Maybe that’s why we have so many spas in this city !- it’s a weak but viable alternative to screaming in the rain, dancing in the dark, or simply pissing into the traffic. maybe it’s the one thing keeping some young, lacquered, powdered, perfumed, cracked woman from diving beautifully, and forever, into the deep end.
or maybe it’s just, like, really really BLISS to sink into a sauna full of steaming water, regardless of whether you are crazy or not. And know that somewhere there’s a sisterhood of naked women out there, doing just the same.
Oh where oh where is my inner peace?