There we were, digging into our Indian food and rack of ribs, because, as one of my colleagues said on a recent Sunday, “the Indian food is the best at the FCC,” so, you know, we had to order it.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong is where we have our Sunday brunches, source lunches and after-work drinks. It is where we welcome newcomers, and where we say our goodbyes.
One of my very first nights in Hong Kong was at the FCC in early 2015, when my colleagues were saying goodbye to one of their own, someone whom I did not yet know. I hardly knew the names of anyone, and yet there I was, in a long green wool coat and holding a glass of red wine among a loud, buzzing crowd of Wall Street Journal editors and reporters bunched so tight in the basement you had to squeeze past arms and elbows just to move from the bar to your group of friends. I didn’t have an FCC membership, but it didn’t matter, as long as you could stick your order on a member’s tab, and nearly everyone else was a member. I remember riding there in the back of a taxi next to my bureau chief and the Asia mobile editor, so fresh to the city that I took a picture of the colonial exterior as we pulled up to the curb. Even though the night was supposed to be a night of farewells, it didn’t feel sad. The wine was plenty and so were the laughs. No one left early, and no one looked like they wanted to.
That Sunday, it was my turn to welcome someone new to the club. I had brought a friend who was on exchange from an MBA program overseas. “Why did you become a journalist?” he asked the group. My colleague tried to explain: how work didn’t feel like work, how the office reminded him of his college paper and how much of a family people at work felt like to him, to us, a motley group of expats far away from home.
“I mean, I’m hanging out with my colleagues on a Sunday afternoon at the FCC,” he said, between bits of spinach paneer, chutney and basmati rice. “How many people can say that about people at their work?”