Saturday, March 21, 1998

Time Going Bye

There is a bar in Hangzhou where the ex patriots hang out called Casablanca. Most of the ex pats have left the scalding heat of an Asian summer and on Friday night the bar was filled with almost entirely of locals sipping pints of Guinness that were far too thin to have been brewed in England. A pretty good band was playing and it was quite a site watching this crowd sing "Country Road, West Virginia."

The next day after a morning meeting to discuss our company wide MRP system, I went to airport to catch a flight back to Hong Kong. This trip is moving into its third week, and though still fascinating it is a bit like watching some one do the same magic trick a second time.

No one was manning the quarantine at the airport and I slipped by and went into the customs waiting area. There was tall brunette woman reading a pink book which I would later found out was titled "The Psychology of Stress Management". She wore a pair of white slacks and a wrap-around blouse that left her belly button exposed as if to make an anti "I Dream of Jeanie" statement.

The military officers motioned us through the assorted luggage zappers into the main terminal. I went through first and took a seat in the large terminal. A few minutes later the brunette came in and took a seat directly across from me. After an awkward half an hour of eyeing one another we finally started to talk. She was British and was working with some of the silk factories as a fashion designer. After a while we discovered that we did have a few things in common such as a preference for using forks and agreement that the real growth industries in China were bicycle repair shops and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

They started the boarding process which broke up our conversation. We were headed up the mobile stairs to the plane, when a military man came rushing after us telling us to stop boarding. We asked why and he informed us that there was a typhoon coming and that we would have to spend a night in a hotel in Hangzhou.

I was convinced that this could have been the best natural disaster ever.

Now the rest of the story isn't about candle light evening with rain pounding at the windows. The only heat that night came from the long Asian summer; the only ones who knew magic were two road show engineers specializing in projecting lasers using a combination of smoke and mirrors and who joined us at the dinner table. Life unfortunately isn't fiction. Sometimes a conversation is just a conversation - a sigh is just a sigh.