Folks, I'm tired. Just plum tuckered out thanks to some nasty flu epidemic sweeping and sneezing its way through Halifax. It's the first time to be sick in over two years, and it's resulted in a never-ending river of snot with a bout of vomitus non-interruptus thrown in just for the hell of it. Having already gone through two boxes of Kleenex, I've given up on the branded "Anti-Viral/Cool Touch/Aloe Lotion" options offered by the leader in facial tissue softness, and instead have rolls of toilet paper strategically placed throughout my home.
Am I sharing too much, yet again? Well, admittedly I'm going for the sympathy vote as this week's entry for Life From A Broad is a little late. In between sickness and health—and trying to write an entirely new website for a client, meetings with other clients, operating under the influence of extra strength cold medications, and following the latest updates on the deaths of both Whitney Houston and Gary Carter—something had to give. And unfortunately it was the blog, which normally provides a huge amount of pleasure, both in me writing and hopefully for you reading. But I just couldn't muster up the required energy to recall the meet-and-greet insanity during my second week in Hong Kong, let alone write about it in a somewhat less-than-droll fashion.
Now perhaps you're wondering how it's possible that in just two weeks—in a place where I didn't know a soul and had no clue of how to get from A to B—I managed to be taking taxis, subways, trams and ferries to meet with the most disparate group of people you could imagine. (A random sampling would include the Presidents of The Hong Kong Business Women's Association, The Entrepreneurs Club of Hong Kong, and the South Africa Women's Chamber of Commerce, a Walt Disney executive, three public relations firms, a couple of vegans, a Mormon and Mick Jagger's doctor.) But such is the beauty of Hong Kong, and such is the power of Meetup.com.
For the uninitiated, Meetup is billed as the world's largest network of local groups and "makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face." With 92,000 local groups in 45,000 cities around the world, more than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day. And with so many Meetup options available, it's pretty well guaranteed that you can find some like-minded individuals in whatever you desire.
In fact, enter the word "desire" into Meetup.com's search engine, and here a few event options happening over the next week:
- The 600 Megawatt Meditation That Made London Glow - hosted by the Journey of Truth Meetup Group in London, England
- Homicide School for Crime Writers - hosted by the Los Angeles Film Meetup Group in Los Angeles, California
- Introduction to Slow Sex - hosted by the Slow Sex is Better! Meetup Group in Austin, Texas
Or say you're living in Vancouver and looking to diversify both your resume and your personality. Enter "Vancouver" in the city search field, and choose from 633 Meetup groups including the Amateur Poker League, the Running and Jogging Club, the Wealthy Investor Network, the Empowerment Support Group for Depression and Anxiety or the Vancouver Sea Kayaking Group. There's even, and I can't believe I'm writing this with a straight face, Rockstar Life, where you can "roll with the Entourage and be a part of the ultimate guys club." The organizer is Ryan—as in "they call me Ryan Cola...but I don't mind it with Seven"—and his motivation for the group is "to hang out with some of the coolest people and meet crazy hot women."
So yes, there will always be the token moron in virtually every organization in the world, but for the most part, Meetup really does give you the opportunity to meet some interesting people in out of the way places. And such was the case for me in Hong Kong.
To try and meet some people, who may or may not be interested in healthy chocolate (since remember, I was only in Hong Kong to test the Chinese chocolate market and see if there were some potential business opportunities), I had joined up a number of groups, such as the Hong Kong Wine Lovers' Group, the Entrepreneurial Group, the Small Business Group, and even The Foodie Group. And it was because of The Foodie Group that I found myself literally at the end of the line.
To be more precise, I was in an apartment in Chai Wan, at the end of MTR subway line on Hong Kong Island and as far away as one could possibly be from my hotel in the Central district. We were way out in the HK boonies, because the apartment was big enough to accommodate over 20 people (massive by HK standards), and was being rented by Michelle, a school teacher from the States and a member of the Foodie Group.
The theme for the evening was "Pot Luck"—something fairly foreign to most Hong Kongers/Chinese—so it made for an interesting assortment of international cuisine. Of course there were a number of vegetarian dishes involving legumes and cabbages brought by the vegans in the group. There were salads, and pasta dishes, and chicken dishes, and even crepes and some weird alcoholic punch being concocted on site by two very tall, slightly inebriated European girls.
I became an instant conversation piece by virtue of the fact that I had made my prosciutto and cheddar balsamic-glazed bruschetta and that I had found my way out to Chai Wan, even though I'd only been in Hong Kong a mere couple of days. And then when people got the back story of how I was travelling around the world for the past five months, and had stopped off in HK to pick up some chocolate? Well, it made me even more of an oddity in a region which specialized in the sublimely bizarre.
The two tall European girls—Inge and Eva—seemed to take a particular liking to me, and I to them. Perhaps it was the effects of the punch, which Inge had been guarding jealously from some of the other Foodie members, but had very graciously allowed me to partake in the swigging. Or perhaps it was my overwhelming need to make some real friends in a meet/meat market of a town. But I honestly felt that these were two women who I could hang out with, have fun, and be taken under their considerable wingspans/armpits. They could provide a little bit of comfort and support, despite the fact they were born when I was still Wang Chung-ing my way through school. So we decided to go out the next night for a couple of drinks so they could show me more of HK's considerable sights.
What could possibly go wrong?