2012年11月30日 星期五

Low Profile (Je Me Suis fait tout Petit) (渺小如我)

My second film at the FFF is a bit like its showing time, 9.50 p.m., a bit dark. It's "Je me suis fait tout petit" (literally, "I make myself all small" or "cut myself down to size). It's the debut film written and directed by a new female French director Cécilia Rouaud, relying heavily on the acting skills of its principal actors/actresses, Denis Ménochet as Yvan Le Doze, Vanessa Paradis as Emmanuelle, Léa Drucker as Ariane, Laurent Lucas  as Luc, Louise Grinberg as Elise, Angèle Garnier   as Manon, Valérie Karsenti  as Claire,  David Carvalho-Jorge as Léo. Quite a number of characters! But all having as their emotional centre, the protagonist Yvan, a middle-age middle class French school teacher whose wife Claire ran away with another man to Thailand and now running a French restaurant there but leaving behind a 5 year-old-son Leo, whom she had with the other man. Yvan loved his wife very deeply. Her departure left him devastated, completely enclosed within an extremely hard exterior shell, taciturn, abrupt, tactless and even at times, even brutal. He would now respond to the little gestures of friendliness shown him by his garrulous male colleague Luc, who helped him  with his packing great reserve and would react with apparent indifference the advances of an art teacher Emanuelle who accidentally bumped into his bicycle one day and by another coincidence got engaged as a substitute teacher in the Paris school where he was teaching when the former teacher died of old age. He could find emotional release only when he visited the seaside chalet he had in Brittany.

As the film opens, we find him packing things, preparing to leave Paris for good for Brittany and would visit a bar after work just to pass the time. He was lucky to have a sister, Ariane who had agreed to look after his two teenage daughters Manon and Elise, who was studying in the same school that he taught. Both his daughters wanted his attention, one by telling him that she had decided not to use contraceptives because she wanted to have a baby by her deaf-mute boy friend and the other by not doing her home work so she would have to receive as punishment not being permitted to enter her class and would have to sit in the corridor where she knew he would pass through and by distributing pamphlets about animal rights in and outside the school.To add to his troubles, he had to deal with a 12-year old girl in his class who had a crush on him and would leave notes in his locker telling him that she was in love with him. He ignored her and told her she did not know what she was talking about and should stop doing so whereupon she would feign an immediate fainting. But she was as stubborn as he and this led to him being reprimanded by his headmaster who said he had to report such matters to him. He did and had to meet the girls parents as a result of which he got a bruised eye.

Things came to a head when he learned from his sister Ariane, who is full of love and had always wanted a child of her own with her husband Simon who is now living with Yvan's two adolescent daughters and had applied for an adopted child, that she had learned that Claire had left behind a child Leo whom she left with her own sister. After some quick change of mind, Yvan suggested that Ariane should adopt Léo although he was originally opposed to the idea and said she was crazy. She did so. Then he decided that he wanted the child and forcibly took it from her. But he did not know how to deal with the child, who was as absorbed within his own inner world as he was and had to interview one baby sitter after another to be able to do so until his friendly colleague agreed to do so. In the meantime, Emanuelle, who had intimate feelings for him and who told him that he was fighting against himself, continued to encourage him to open himself up and who continued to love him. He took her to his little chalet in Brittany as he did Leo, who both said the place smelled really bad, something which he refused to admit.He only opened himself up when without knowing why he did so, he knocked on her door at 4 or 5 o'clock in the night/morning to tell her he wanted to see her and in the hurry, she closed the door behind her without her key and whilst waiting for the locksmith, she played charade with him.

Then Claire's grandma died and Claire came back with another over-active kid for the funeral. Yvan resigned from the school and drove to his little chalet again, all alone, cleaned up the place and for the first time, he felt relaxed and began to dance to the music of a portable music deck. He had come out of his despair, his anger and his pent up emotions. He decided he was ready to live with his two daughters again together with Leo. The film ends. To me, his chalet in Brittany, close by the sea, is his subconscious, his last emotional refuge, where he could really be himself: run on the beach and breathe the sea air and be rid of the thousand and one trivialities of living in an often cold and impersonal big metropolis like Paris. The story of an emotionally wounded man finally accepting his condition.

The story is not particularly dramatic but the acting is good. I like in particular the quasi-autistic little Léo, Denis too portrays well a man who has such difficulties in expressing all the emotions churning deep within his soul and which makes him so unapproachable. The film is almost like a documentary but is not. Perhaps the director wishes the film to be "se fait petit": low key, land even its humor is so low profile and as unobtrusive as the dumb and unarticulated emotional crisis suffered by Yvan? Is that not why his daughter Manon said she wanted to have a baby by a deaf mute? Is Leo, who would not say a word and would never talk to any one but his rag baby Arlette, his transitional object, not another reflection of Yvan?  

2012年11月29日 星期四

Happiness Never Comes Alone (Un bonheur n'arrive jamais seul)(命中註定搭錯線)

I feel it coming. A really big headache ! The triple F (French Film Festival)  like the tricolor, has come to Hong Kong. The next fortnight will be hectic. Somehow, I got to squeeze time from my busy work/study/talk/concert schedule to accommodate seeing the kind of films I like. That will mean inter alia, hurtling through the MTR corridors, doing my best not to knock people over, drastic time cuts for that other love of my life, hundreds of concubines beckoning on my bookshelf, sandwiches and coffees instead of proper meals, performing impossible logistic of moving from spot A and/or B/C to the location where the latest film will be screened, groping gingerly on the steps of the relevant movie houses before my eyes have gotten used to the sudden darkness upon entry and hopefully not, having to restrain myself from exploding into a florid display of abusive words after being exposed to 110 minutes of banal celluloid. But it began pleasantly enough last night. It's a film featuring my favorite French actress, Sophie Marceau. It's Un bonheur n'arrive jamais seul ( Happiness Never Comes Alone).

It's a light-hearted contemporary French comedy, a mime-like slapstick or burlesque which looks like a perfect embodiment of Murphy's Law (everything which can possibly go wrong will go wrong!). It began with a beautiful looking middle-aged French lady rushing out of the entrance of a posh metal and glass building in the rain and in the process stepping onto one side of an overlong red gauze shawl and sustaining a fall. She was instantly helped to get up by some gallant French gentlemen passing by but insisted that she was OK despite the fall. All this was witnessed by a balding bohemian type in his convertible whose hood which got stuck outside of the same entrance after attending an interview with regard to a possible contract. She was trying to hail a taxi but had no success. Worse, whilst waiting, she was given an unneeded shower from the sprays from a roadside puddle by a speeding car just in time to be late, immediately after the bohemian raised a hand to warn her of the on-coming car. Too bad. His car hood remained stuck and rainwater kept collecting on the car seats. She still failed to have any luck with taxis. He laughed it off and offered to take her to where she wanted to go IF she didn't mind. She lifted her head, made a characteristically French gesture with her hands signifying reluctant acceptance her "destiny" and got into his car. They looked into each others eyes. There seemed instant chemistry or is it electricity (?) in their looks. But both just engaged in polite exploratory chit chat. The journey soon ended in an elegant quarter. She introduced herself as a talent scout and he as an ad song composer. The lady said good bye, The man said, "on se voit (we'll see each other). The lady smiled and left. The man stayed to make sure that she's safely inside the main entrance to the mansion. 20 seconds later, the main entrance of the mansion re-opened. The lady emerged, rushed over to the car, held the man head with both her hands and kissed him passionately

In the next scene, we see them in her bed. Suddenly we hear the voice of a child. A big round face appeared at the door. The man quickly jumped off the bed with incredible speed and covered himself with a white bed sheet on the far side of the bed from the door, in mortal fear. He learned that the lady got a son. In an earlier scene in which he was playing jazz at a club, we hear him declare his abhorrence of children during a casual conversation prompted by one of his friends' comment about how cute a lovely young boy sitting quietly on a chair looked, completely absorbed by what he was hearing from a pair of ear phones whose circumference is bigger than his head . Then he discovered another, and ...another. After the third bedroom door was opened, he asked if there were any more. Much to his relief, there was none. This is the start of an impossible romance. The lady was Charlotte (Sophie Marceau), a woman with two ex husbands and three kids, one 4, the other 7 and the third 14-15. Her current ex was Alain Porshe, the boss of a huge multinational which
is the number 1 in French entertainment and she works for a charitable
foundation established by Porshe specializing in discovering young
artistic talent which deserve help. The man was Sacha (Gad Elmaleh), a
very talented jazz/classical pianist who just lives for the moment, who plays jazz for free at a night club out of
kicks for the genre and who never misses any chance of chatting up and
sleeping with pretty girls there, a guy who at his age is still having his laundry and meals done by his mom and who makes a living composing catchy advertising
ditty which he could turn out in anything from 3 minutes to half an hour
and who is partner with a completely dedicated shadow show choreographer Laurent  (Maurice Barthélémy), a short bald guy who is always full of ideas about what to do next. He loves his piano, his music, his friends, his life of carefree fun.

The film is directed by James Huth and co-written by him with Sonja Shallito.. What makes this slapstick comedy totally credible is the low-keyed acting by Sophie and Gad, whose timing and expressions are just perfect and had the audience laughing almost non-stops at the unexpected problems presented by life with three kids. It turns out that despite his congenital aversion to children, Sacha had a real knack for making children happy with his incessantly inventive antics . The film ends with Charlotte's extremely jealous husband Alain who put the squeeze on by using his enormous influence in having all of Sacha contracts canceled conceding defeat and coming to a kind "detente" with Sacha by lifting the alimony condition that Charlotte shall not have any man around her house and Sacha returning to the side of Charlotte upon learning, after having had a successful run of his musical at Broadway, that before he finally decided to leave for New York, his buddy Laurent had had a private conversation with Charlotte during which he managed to persuade her to let him go to New York for his own good. The film ends with all three of Charlotte's children jumping on to Sacha's body after he accidentally fell on the ground, hugging him on the garden floor outside of Charlotte's new residence, with, of course, Charlotte too in his arms. It's a kind of comedy which I cannot see any Americans, Brits, Germans, Italians or Chinese making: perfect timing for the slapsticks and perfectly "natural" and un-exaggerated acting in a society where everything is possible.   A perfect start to the film festival. Shall I continue to be so lucky?  

2012年11月28日 星期三

The Life of Pi

It's been quite a while since I saw a film. Yesterday I did. T'was an unusual film, certainly not the kind that you see, got your senses bombarded for some 90-110 minutes and then have a coffee and croissant and forget. It was a film based on a novel called "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, produced and directed by Ang Lee (Broken Back Hill).

As the film opens, we see in 3-D first one kind of animal or bird or reptile after another in a tropical zoo and finally Charlie Parker, a 450 pound Bengal Tiger which got its name because the registration official made a mistake and filled in the name of the seller of the beast in the docket for the name of the beast itself!  We see young Pi (who himself got his name because one of his father's relatives (a business associate in the novel) who is a swimming champion helped the infant Pi get the water out of his lungs by grabbing him by his feet and dangling him in the air upside down as a result of which his father Santosh Patel (Adil Hussan), a cultured Indian who speaks fluent French, was so impressed that he named him after the "Piscine (Swimming Pool) Molitor" in Paris, which his relative thought the most beautiful swimming pool in the world because its waters was so crystal clear). Young Pi himself was later taught to be an excellent swimmer. Then we were shown a scene in which young Pi, out of childish curiosity, tried, with his brother Pavi Patel (Ayan Khan) to place a chunk of meat in front of Charlie Parker's cage to see him feeding but was stopped in the nick of time when his father stepped in to warn him that beasts are not like human and we should never treat them the same way as we treat people and proceeded to teach young Pi a lesson he would never forget: a goat was tied to the front of cage and in no time, it was attacked and torn to pieces by Charlie Parker and dragged away to devour behind the walls. 

The story is that of the adventures of the teenage Pi with Charlie Parker. When the Indian government announced that they would cease to subsidise his father's zoo, Pi's father decided to sell it, bring all the animals to Canada which he planned to sell and then settle down with his mother Gita Patel (Tabu) and his brother Ravi. They boarded a Japanese cargo vessel Tsimtsum and were on the way to Canada but met a terrible storm in mid-Pacific during which the ship sunk and young Pi lost all his family. At the last moment amidst huge ocean swells, young Pi, the only survivor, got on to a 26 foot lifeboat, on to which jumped first a zebra, then a hyena, then an orang utan and finally Charlie Parker. In the course of the drifting of the life-boat on to the shores of Mexico, where his lifeboat eventually landed, we see how Pi learned to survive, on canned water and filtered seawater, emergency rations, and freshly caught sea life, using the survival guide he found on the life boat which gave him various tips on how to do so, stressing above all, one should persists and never to lose hope and how he co-exists with the beast Charlie Parker, alternatively in fear and affection, how Charlie Parker depended on Pi, how Pi learned to tame it, how keeping Charlie Parker alive became the principal motive for his own will to survive, how when they landed on shore, Charlie Parker stepped ashore, walked from the beach into the forest without turning his head around even once to look back at the completely exhausted Pi, lying on the sand beside the lifeboat which he managed to pull ashore with the last ounce of his strength: something which broke his heart. In the course of his drifting across the Pacific, Pi discovers a floating island without any soil in which trees grow directly out from other trees and where there is a huge colony of meerkats upon which Charlie Parker could feast himself at will. Pi sleeps on a make shift bed on a tree besides a freshwater pond in which dead fishes would mysteriously appear in the morning. One day, Pi finds human teeth in a fruit. He learns that even the trees on that island can be cannibals.In fact this is only one version of the story.

We learned that when he recounted this story in the Mexican hospital to two Japanese insurance investigators ( officers from the Japanese Ministry of Transport in the novel) to find out the cause of the sinking of the vessel, they refused to believe Pi because they thought there could not be an island full of meerkats in the middle of nowhere floating on banana-like plants and not appearing in any map. So Pi gave them another version: a version in which 4 people got on to the life boat, the animal like French cook instead of a hyena, a Buddhist sailor instead of a zebra, and his mother Gita instead of the orangutan in addition to himself. In both versions, the hyena attacked first the zebra, then the oran utan and but there's no Charlie Parker who emerged from under a canvas cover at the back of the boat and disposed of the hyena. Is the Bengal tiger another side of Pi himself? In the second version, after having nothing to eat, the French cook ate the Buddhist sailor and then attacked his mother who was pushed on to the sea where she was devoured by sharks and then apparently felt so bad after seeing the carnage that he allowed Pi to kill him without resistance. All this came out when Pi was sought by a Canadian writer back in Canada who whilst having a holiday in Ponticherry, a former French and then a British colony and now Indian, to relieve himself of the gloom after having written a second novel which he decided was so bad that he did not want it published and there came to know of Pi's existence through a Mamaji (in India the word "ji" is an honorific title attached to the end of a person's name added on to the name of someone whom one has great respect) whom he met at a café . He was told that Pi , who from a very young age, decided to follow all gods: first the god Vishnu of Hinduism, then Allah the God of Islam, then the Catholic God and who then decided to worship all three at the same time, finally managed to find the ultimate God right in the middle of the Pacific.  After recounting the tale of his survival to the Canadian writer, Pi asked him, which version he liked better. The writer mumbled something indistinct but merely asked if he could write Pi's story, a permission which Pi freely gave. At that point, we hear the sound of Pi's wife calling for Pi, who told the Canadian writer that he was now married with two children and a "cat"! ,

The story itself falls into the genre of tales of survival but it does raise interesting questions that bear reflection, questions like "what is civilization? how strong are our civilized values in the face of death in the struggle to stay alive? what is the difference between a human being and a beast? what is good? what is evil? what or who is God and if he exists, how does he treat us? Under what circumstances are we permitted to kill? What is truth? What is illusion? Can we survive without some kind of religious illusions?" . To me, this is a not just a tale of survival. It's a moral allegory. And with what spectacular photography and computer generated effects this allegory film is made ! I love Claudio Miranda's magical camera work and the music by Mychael Danna.


2012年11月27日 星期二

Shu Ting (舒婷)'s "A Way of Playing" (一種演奏風格)


舒婷  09.05.1990

A Way of Playing
The horn is light of the lone hovel in the field

The sax a light soft snowflake


One layer upon another  

The horn flickering in the wispy cloud

In the pool of the sax

The sound of frog croaking lighter or tighter

The fire fly bending the tip of the grass

The horn a tallow tree in autumn

The sax torn by swirling wind, surrounded

Its arms up in prayer to the gods, its trunk dancing at last
Bright red spots on the ground

The horn rising suddenly

The sax with the toes of mist, the whisperings of the wood, the charm of a herd of deer

Scaling up a step at a time,

Scaling up a step at a time

The horn leaping up

The sax unfolding the surface of its sea

One wave upon another

Of metallic sunshine

The horn’s flags now gazing upon  

The thundering hoofs of the sax

The horn giving its all

The sax

Oh the sax suddenly turning low

The horn letting itself fall into the deep

Splintering into echoes of ample rain and pearls
The sax howling on its throat of stone, standing,

Circling the sinking sunset
tr. El Zorro

Shu Ting( 舒婷 ) (b 1952) is one of the contemporary poetesses I like. Recently I bought one of her poetry collections called  "一種演奏風格". I sought the title poem. I read it. I like it. So I thought I'd translate it that others too may share in my joy. According to internet sources, she was born  龔佩瑜 in 福建龍海市石碼鎮, was sent to work in the villages in 1969, returned as a common laborer in 1972 , started writing poetry in 1979 and was recruited the following year to work as a professional writer by the Fujian province authorities.  Her works include the following :《雙桅船》、《會唱歌的鳶尾花》、《始祖鳥》,散文集《心煙》等。She's been considered part of the movement known as "fuzzy poetry" (朦朧詩」) along with such other poets as 北島, 顧城、梁小斌 etc.

I like the way she uses imagery: simple, direct, unique, idiosyncratic and often surprising.  


2012年11月25日 星期日

Lang Lang again: a Lizst in HK?

Last night was a long awaited night. It I was both delighted and slightly disappointed. I went to a concert at the Cultural Centre, this time not by the HKPO but by one artist alone. It was Lang Lang's piano solo recital.

He appeared on stage in a black suit upon an open neck white shirt, his hair no longer gelled until they stuck out like porcupine quills. There were instant applauses. He sat down, adjusted his stool, relaxed his arms and started. It was Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 5 in G K 283. This was followed by 2 other works also by the same composer, Piano Sonata No. 4 in E Flat K 282 and then Piano Sonata No, 8 in A minor K310., the first two being originally written for the harpischord. The first is a delightful piece with that typical Mozartian lightness of touch and simple fun. The second is another piece which oozes flow of the spirit. The third is full of the joie de vivre from the very start which persists to bubble till the very end. Lang Lang gave them his very unique interpretation with heavily emphasized contrast between the left hand and right hand, making the bass notes sound weightier, with longer than usual pauses to let the effect sink in before his right hand would explode with faster than machine-gun notes which dazzle with their speed, delicacy and grace with occasional notes hit harder to accentuate the rhythm. Lang Lang has very different notions about the punctuation of the pieces, often joining phrases and sentences together into one whole very long paragraph. I feel that I am hearing more Lizst than Mozart, perhaps a Lizstian Mozart or more accurately a Langian Mozart? Why disappoiinted? I did not have a Mozartian Mozart!

The second part of the programme was much better. Lang Lang was playing 4 Ballades of Chopin, a composer whose composing style was much more susceptible to the Langian treatment. According to the programme notes, these 4 ballades were inspired by 4 ballads by the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz: Konrad Wallenrod, Switez, The Water-Sprite and The Three Budrys. I haven't seen any of them and so haven't got the faintest clue as to what they were about nor the sentiments or emotions or moods they portrayed. But I certainly agree with the programme note's quote from the Groves Dictionary that they are full of "melodic beauty , harmonic richness and powerful climaxes". Under the hands of Lang Lang, I can feel the impact of the powerful resonances of the notes lingering long after they were originally played, lasting sometimes three or four seconds after his hand first hit the keyboard thus producing literally a wall of sonic waves in which the resonances of the earlier left hand (and sometimes right hand) notes blend in with those of the later notes amidst the flurry of fast notes played by the right hand. Fireworks on the piano? If so, it's a strange blend of fire with grace. Whether or not one agrees with the way Lang Lang interpreted the pieces, one can never fail to be stunned. We had four encores, three short waltzes by Chopin and I'm not sure if the last one is by Lizst. Whatever they were, they were magnificent. I left the concert hall a happier man than when I went in.

2012年11月24日 星期六

My Favourite Song from one of my favorite singers: The Rose

I first met her on the cover of a "Hi-fi CD" many many years ago. On the bottom right, there's a singer in short hair in a dark dress, her left hand fingers spread out in front of her bosom, a mike in her right hand, her lips parted, her half closed eyes upon her slightly upturned face. She was singing. To the top left, there's that white flare when the lights are too bright when one takes a snapshot of the nightclub ceiling light. The title of the CD? Amanda McBroom: Live from Rainbows and Stars. Rainbows and Stars is a famous nightclub in at the Rockefeller Plaza New York. The time was Nov. 9, 1994. It was a magic moment. The recording was wonderful: you got to savor that peculiar mix of almost conversational ease, her voice whispering, trembling even rasping along with the moods and feelings portrayed by her songs. I still had the CD and I still listen to it from time to time. Every time I heard it, my old feelings came back. I was deeply moved. It was a moving CD. She wrote and sang from her heart.

This is what Chip Deffaa, author of the Voices of the Jazz Age wrote about McBroom: "On this album, you'll hear McBroom herself offer it. And the song has resonance because it's true; the words are a remembrance of her own father." McBroom is a very unique phenomenon: her father an actor, her mother a poet, she's been acting since age 4 and now she writes the lyrics and sometimes both the lyrics and the music of her very personal songs which she sings. It's rare to find so much talent converging in one tiny body. She wrote numerous songs. But there is a song which I love most. It's a short song about love written in 1977 and sung by her and now by many other singers including Judy Collins, Joan Baez. It's called "The Rose", a song which now features in another later CD of hers called Amanda McBroom: Portraits: The Best of Amanda McBroom. I'll let the lyrics tell their own story. They'll certainly do so better than I. Here they are:

Some say love...it is a river
 That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love...it is a razor
 That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love...it is a hunger
  An endless, aching need
I say love...it is a flower
 And you its only seed.
It's the heart that fears the breaking
 That never learns to dance.
It's the dream that's afraid of waking
 That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken
 Who cannot seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying
 That never learns to live.
When the night has been too lonely
 And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
 For the lucky and the strong.
Just remember, in the winter,
 Far beneath the bitter snows...
Lies the the seed that, with the sun's love,
 In the spring becomes the rose. 

Saturday fun

No matter how many times you hear them, somehow jokes about that most exasperating, puzzling and yet fascinating relation between a woman and a man never feel outdated. Here are some jokes that had been sent to me by a friend which I think may bring a few knowing smiles upon your face this gloomy weekend.

1.   Male and Female arithmetic

Smart man  + dumb woman  = an affair

Dumb man   + smart woman = a marriage

Dumb man   + dumb woman  = a pregnancy

Smart man  + smart woman  = a game

2.  Office Arithmetic

Smart boss + smart employee = profit

Smart boss + dumb employee =

Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion

Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime

3.  Shopping Maths

A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he

A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item
that she doesn't need.

4. How To Stop People Bugging You
About Getting Married

Wobbly female relatives used to poke me gently in the ribs during weddings, cackling, 'You're next!' but stopped after I started doing the
same to them at funerals.

5. Different Worries

A woman worries about the future until
she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future
until he gets a wife.

6. Success

 A successful man is one who makes more
money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find
such a man.


7.  Happiness

To be happy with a man, you must
understand him a lot and love him a little.

To be happy with a woman, you must love
her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

8. Propensity To Change

A woman marries a man expecting he
will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that
she won't change, and she does.

9. Arguments

A woman has the last word in any

Anything a man says after that is the
beginning of a new argument.

10. Longevity

Married men live longer than single
men do, but often married men are a lot more willing to die.

Take time off to relax, relax and relax. Tomorrow will then be a better day !

2012年11月22日 星期四

The Flora of Sichuan

According to the Wikipedia, the nominal GDP of Sichuan in 2011 was 2.15 trillion yuan (US$340 billion), equivalent to 17,380 RMB (US$2,545) per capita. In 2008, the per capita disposable income of the urbanites averaged 12,633 yuan (US$1,819), up 13.8% from 2007. With a total population of some 90 million and 114 million including the now independently controlled Chengdu, it's capital. It's one of the richest provinces of China. We were told by our tour guide that the one of favourite pastimes of the people is to go to a "tea house" where they can simply drink tea with some nuts and one or two good conversation partners. I think I know why. The province is haven for plants because of its abundant rain, which grow in great profusion all year round.

See what I mean? These are found at the Panda Research Centre, Chengdu, Sichuan.

The park is full of flowers everywhere

Look at how dense they are.

A close up of the lantanas

Some yellow flowers I found there

A chrysanthemum

a bud about to open

A pink peonia.

a pink and a white peonia growing side by side

Some unknown little white flowers

A small blue flower I found at the Centre

I have seen this kind of flower in HK many times but it's the first time I found one with petals so densely packed together and so bursting with life.

An orchid

A lake at the centre

Since it's a Panda Centre, how could there be no bamboos?

A bamboo covered path

It's really fun to stroll along such paths. You feel nature all around you as if you were cuddled and huddled like a child.

These old folks certainly would agree

The leaves there are really green

Yet, cheek by jowl, you find death staring you in your face but... also new life. 

Here you find the answer to its abundance

And here too, is further proof.

All thanks to the Panda.

The Pace of Creation

Central is a fascinating place. You'll always manage to find something there that you've never seen before or something which you've seen before but really haven't.

Like that tiny "tree" on the glass pane

Or the distorted images of the buildings upon the windscreen of some of the vehicles parked on the roadside

or the subtle shades of bright red upon the different curves of this panel outside one of the shops

Quite by accident, I came upon an exhibition of urban design organized by HK chapter of the the American Institute of Architects.  This is a photo of an artist's impression of an unbuilt design of the Chongking River Tower.

I understand that the city of Dalian in North China intends to implement 7 civic projects to modernize its look, including a library, a science center, a teenage community hall etc.  This is an artist's impression of the urban planning exhibition museum which will "float" upon the centre of an urban park. The design highlights the history of the city as a port and will blend into the surrounding environment and be a living embodiment of the concept of urban design.

This is going to be the China Southern Airlines 'Headquarters at the Guangzhou Airport City!

This is the artist's impression of another city in the PRC. The scope for design in our mother country seems limitless.

The design for another of China's inland river city

This is the design for Xiuying Port of Haikou, another port city in southern China

A close up view of part of its harbor

This is going to be one of the new buildings to be erected in Hong Kong.

Would you believe it. This is how the China Resources Building in Wanchai can look like

Another view of the same building. New ideas are developing at breakneck pace. Can we catch our breath keeping up?

Perhaps these will give us an idea of what we'll look like if we don't change.

Changes are revolving around us. They're happening everywhere. Shall we be dazzled? Shall we take stock and readjust our place in the world amidst all such innovations? Or shall we stay put? Do we have a choice? 

2012年11月21日 星期三

Another Time, Another Central

Central is a place where I had been for I don't know how many years. Yet each time I passed it, I always managed to find something I don't appear to have noticed before.

Like this flower, opening out feebly yet unashamedly.

or these two little white flowers, hiding  sheepishly under the leaves

And this shoot, preparing to open.

these leaves with their mottled green

This hibiscus.

The pattern on the surface of the sea never seems to be the same.

If one bothers to look, one always finds patterns one didn't notice before.

I found these at a flower stand.

And these sparkling bolts to the escalator

strange reflected patterns of the escalators

The sun finding a final resting place on the ground

the corner of an ad box

Flowers in front of a shop

A window display

And even shiny crystal balls telling us that Christmas is just round the corner !