The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong

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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?”

The Scary Thing About Hong Kong

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The scariest thing about Hong Kong is how fast time warps.

Perhaps it because of how far ahead Hong Kong is of California—a 16-hour time difference—or maybe it’s the bustle of the dense crowds, or the very nature of my job, which requires me to write for our real-time newswires. Whatever it is, as I’m still figuring it out, there nags the sense that, despite being awake long before Europe and America, which would imply a head-start on the world, I am failing to catch up.

In January 2015, I moved to Hong Kong. The passing of one year has felt like the drag of two, and not because of bad experiences, though there were certainly moments of frustration as there were of happiness and joy, but more so because I tried to fill as many adventures and friendships as I could into my own timezone, while balancing the relationships of another. I’m clearly physically present in only one location, but emotionally, my heart is in two.

The thrills of meeting new people in Hong Kong from many countries, of traveling to Southeast Asian countries for the first time and of working for an international paper are tempered by a longing to do and see even more as the days feel short, and by the regret that I can’t see my family or friends in the U.S. as frequently as I would like. Conversations with them via FaceTime are always backward-looking, for as they start their days, I am already one day ahead. So there is a slight feeling that I am living in the past as Hong Kong surges forward, and to me the lurch feels even quicker by everyone’s urgent desire here to divine the future of our global markets and the future of China and of Hong Kong’s perceived sovereignty. I often feel like I am losing control of time, and though of course I can’t bend it to my will, these days I am wishing even more so that I could.