I think I really should promise myself not to visit Shenzhen again. Yet, two years ago, as a naive traveler I was attracted to this city. It was the first big city I had seen in my life. I thought it to be frightfully big, and magically beautiful with dazzling lights in the night covering the sheer facade of materialism that this city really is.
We woke up after a night of unbearable heat – had to borrow the lone desk fan from the living room – and attach it literally at my head so to speak in order to gain some respite from the heat. Morning dawned in a drizzle of rain. It had been pouring all night too. And the wrenching humidity sapped me of what little love I had towards the place. I was eager to get to Hong Kong – to the city of my dreams. It would prove to be a wish that the Universe seemed determined to punish me with. This has to be one of the most incredibly stressful days in the past one year. Still reeling from Asshole’s betrayal of Birdie, we had to summon up more reserves of energy in order to take out more from the luggage. Heaps of clothes were left for the “poor.” And an entire parcel of winter clothes began its slow passage to India. What seas they will move through I wonder. They will see places I have never seen, these clothes of mine.
Pack. Unpack. Post. Exchange currencies. Book tickets. Run to the Holiday Inn to catch the bus. And here begins the fun. The bus that we booked is not there. Apparently there was a mistake by Holiday Inn – a mistake that proves to our benefit. Instead we get a chauffeured limousine that drops us off at a bus station. We board a swanky new bus that moves barely two minutes before stopping at the border checkpost. We get down – then realize with a start that all the luggage we had painstakingly lugged has to be removed again. And then again. By this time, I hate Shenzhen. Hate it with a fervor that borders on perverseness. As we struggle with the massive pieces of baggage, I feel the beginnings of the massive headache that grips me. I couldn’t take a pill even as there was simply no time, for water. For simple ol’ water.
After hauling our baggage into another bus that is to make its way to Tsim Sha Shui, I sit down. Last seat on the bus. The coolness of the windowpanes belying the throbbing headache. I hate myself for getting this headache now. Now, at this moment, for which I had been so waiting for. That moment when the magical lights of Hong Kong swirl into view. I can barely even point out to Birdie. Nausea grips me. I long to lay my head on the floor and relax. Relaxation though, is a manna that the cruel Universe is determined not to give me. The bus stops at Tsim Sha Shui. Bags are again heaved. I can barely even speak now. Birdie hails a cab driver. We realize that we don’t the address in Cantonese. The cab driver is nice enough but he irritates me with his lisp. He shoots questions to me about the address that I can’t answer. And then the bile rises. Till I can no longer control it. I cannot describe those awful moments when I thought I would have to puke all over his car. Till Birdie gives me the empty plastic bag that I had kept as cover for “dates.” I puke all over and wish this horrifying journey to end. For this headache to stop.
Can worse happen? Yes. I stain the plush bluish-white sofa of our host, Pramod. I devise an elaborate drama to get both Birdie and Pramod out of the house and hastily erase the remnants of my “dates” from the expensive sofa. I feel sick to the core of my stomach. And I still hated Shenzhen for giving me this nightmarish beginning to the city of my dreams – Hong Kong.