Today, I ran up to the Victoria Peak, not just for normal exercise, but to observe the landing of the tropical cyclone "Haima". First comes absolute silence, then rain, then torrential floods, and then the furious wind kicks in. It seems most people observed the warning not to go outside, and the loneliness added to the spectacular atmosphere. As I was brought up in a forest, I followed my instinct which path to take and which other to avoid. You get a feeling, which tree will hold and which one might not. But it's of course not more than a feeling. The best is to stay away from them - if you can. Just a falling branch can cause serious damage.
Hong Kong neither feels home anymore, nor in any way exotic. Don't know what it really is for me at this point in time. To be fair, this time I have not seen much, because I was extremely occupied last week and spent my time in Cyberport. Now I am back to campus. Let's see what I will discover in the month to come.
I arrived in Hong Kong. Watched two movies on the flight. One was "Steve Jobs". I think I could follow the plot quite well, because I know most of the Apple products and versions of the company's early days. Also, I read the Steve Job biography before, even I don't fancy very much what I know about his personality. I have my own experiences working with assholes, who blow their technical incompetence into the genius miracle saga orbit by an aggressive ego. But I have no first hand experience with Steve Jobs, so I can't say anything about him. The other movie was the latest James Bond, called Spectre. Car was okay (Aston Martin DB10), bond girl also (Lea Seydoux). Then I fell asleep a few hours.
What struck me upon arrival, was the message that our good friend Peter Olaf Looms suffered a fatal heart attack in Argentina. He was travelling to visit family with his wife Clementina. Last thing I saw from him was a question on how to reduce evaporation from a water reservoir. Then the communication halted on October 2nd. He died October 3rd. I am very sad about this. In April this year, we all still were greeting summer with a glass of wine, over the Grand Harbour of Valletta. We strolled around Malta and Gozo together and took a shaky boat into the Blue Grotto.
We met Peter the first time at the breakfast room of the University guesthouse. He was a new arrival to the other Professors who were meeting there every morning. I remember, that I asked Feibai who he was, and she said: "I don't know. But he is a very intelligent man". Peter became Feibai's mentor and choached her for her research proposal for the Frankfurt School of Management and Finance, where she is now doing her PhD. No matter where in the world the other one was, these two were on WeChat every day - exchanging papers, and thoughts and questions. Slowly I learned, how much energy Peter had, and how committed he was to guide his mentees. And I also slowly grasped how many of them there were, and over how many years, and where on the planet. Everywhere. Some of them turned into respected intellectuals and scientists. Others into political dissidents. From Bolivia to China, Peter shaped ideas and lives. He was in the end even my mentor, because I admire how he did that. Now he is gone. Not just, he did not come back to our little circle in the breakfast room, where we all have been expecting him. He is away. I am really sad. Everybody is.
I am staying away from the buzz of Hong Kong these days. The touch down in the guesthouse was a good start. Then moved to hotel closer to Cyberport for a week, for practical reasons. Hotels rarely have an atmosphere I really like. It is a nice hotel. But I think, if you travelled a lot, you might know what I mean.
It's Friday. The English leftovers and new arrivals are getting drunk in the hotel bar by this time of the week. The prostitutes from Shenzhen are preparing for a hard working night. And the sun has set over the Lamma Island Strait.