Friday, June 20, 2008

June 19, 2008

I had a busy day last Thursday. As a counter to my May 28, 2008 post on how extremely slow it was that day, here is my busy day for purposes of perpetuity (and for when I'm old and grey and smacking my gums I'll remember why I drank a lot of caffeine):

7:30 a.m.  Alarm rings. Hit on snooze button.
7:50 a.m.  Woke up. Checked blackberry and saw a gazillion e-mails. Gave audible sigh and said "It's going to be a busy day."
8:45 a.m.  Took bus to work. Had breakfast at Deli-O: Beef noodle soup. Bought coffee at Starbucks.
9:30 a.m.   Instructed English trainee S. to fix notarization and apostilling of Bank X's documents and power of attorneys, and to send to Ukraine counsel when done.
9:45 a.m.  E-mails to New York counsel of counterparty in connection with registration of amendments to Mauritius documents (in relation to Project A).
10:00 a.m. E-mailed six revised security documents to counterparty, their English counsel and their Malaysian counsel (in relation to Project B).
10:30 a.m. E-mailed counsel of security trustee to Project B, telling her why we couldn't accept most of their comments.
11:30 a.m. Reviewed indenture for Project C. 
1:00 p.m.  Bought lunch (Tuna sandwich on multi grain bread). Ate lunch while reading article about Michelle Obama on the New York Times website.
1:30 p.m.  BBB tells me I'm staffed on two new share backed financing Projects and asks me to contact Indonesian, BVI, Cayman and Singapore local counsels to give them background details, inform them of timing and to collect fee quotes.
3:00 p.m.  Drafted fee letters and revised facility agreement for Project B. Answered questions from investment bank arranging the facility.
6:00 p.m. Phone call from L., asking if I'll be going home soon. I said I could probably leave in an hour and a half, when I finish revising the facility agreement for Project B.
7:30 p.m.  Phone call from BBB, telling me that client for Project D wants facility agreement by tomorrow afternoon, so I need to have a draft ready for his review by lunchtime tomorrow. I phone Cuisine Courier and order food from Archie B's deli (Tuna Melt and green salad).
7:35 p.m.   Read term sheet for Project D. Talked to overnight secretary and told her I'll send her something to encode at midnight.
7:50 p.m.   Started drafting Facility Agreement. 
8:30 p.m. Ordered food arrives. I place it in the pantry and go back to work.
11:45 p.m. Gave secretary precedent documents and riders, and gave instructions on encoding and global changes. Emphasized these had to be ready when I came in at 8:00 a.m., for my further drafting. Chomped on crackers while giving instructions. Took cab home.
12:00 a.m. Got home. L. waiting up for me and watching TV. Read novel (The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon).
1:00 a.m.  Slept and dreamt about becoming a yoga instructor.

Note to self: a busy day is a good way to lose weight.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Guerillas

Guerillas (1975) by V.S. Naipaul is only 250 pages long, but it took me close to three weeks to read. It has to be one of the most complicated books I've ever read, and one of the most unsettling.

The setting is never identified specifically, but it can be any former colonized country where there is poverty and political instability and a hot scorching sun. (Naipaul is from Trinidad, so he may have been describing his native country) There is no protagonist nor antagonist, and instead there are a number of characters with flawed personalities. One of the most disturbing characters is a woman named Jane, who is British and came to the country to be with her lover. This description of her is apt:

"She was without memory. . .She was without consistency or even without coherence. She knew only what she was and what she had been born to; to this knowledge she was tethered; it was her stability, enabling her to adventure in security. Adventuring, she was indifferent, perhaps blind, to the contradiction between what she said and what she was so secure of being; and this indifference or blindness, this absence of the sense of the absurd, was part of her unassailability."

And, to me, this description is for a certain sort of ugly developed country foreigner, who does not see nuances and the subtleties between their condition and the condition of the formerly colonized. Because, of course, there are, and they are indelible.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dragonboat Sunday and Disneyland Monday

Last weekend was a three day weekend. L. and I went to two places we'd never been to before. One place was wholesome, and the other was, well, colorful.

Dragonboat Sunday

Every year, all the big companies in Hong Kong, in a show of camaraderie, field teams for the dragonboat races. My own firm had one team, and L.'s firm had their own team, but being the great athletes that we are, L. and I both decided to show our support by showing up at the races and cheering our respective teams on.

We arrived at Stanley on a Sunday morning and the beach was teeming with people. A little further off was a small jetty, where tons of motorboats were ferrying people to and from their company "junks" (a funny term for a Chinese boat, considering a junk has the conveniences of a small yacht). Each junk had a big streamer with the name of the company or firm occupying it, and loud music blared from each one. In each junk were (mostly white) women in bikins, (mostly white) men were in shorts, and they were dancing and drinking and getting burned by the hot summer sun. And no one seemed to pay attention to the races.

So it turns out these dragonboat races are just an excuse for everyone to party and get drunk. As I got on the junk I was immediately handed a beer and told to go to the top deck where you could "see the races". You could see the dragonboats from there, but of course, that wasn't the point. 
Ahh, the life of a Hong Kong expat! 

Disneyland Monday

To make-up for the excesses of Sunday (and Friday and Saturday), L. and I decided to do something wholesome for Monday. 

Both of us had never been to Hong Kong Disneyland before, and it was surprisingly fun. Our favorites were the Buzz Lightyear interactive adventure ride (where you each carried guns to shoot at evil peons of Emperor Zorg), Mickey's Philarmagic Show (a 10 minute 3-D cartoon with smells and real bubbles and water sprays to go with the 3-D experience) and of course, Space Mountain (is it age, or don't you guys think this ride is absolutely trippy?)

There was also a really enjoyable parade called Mickey's Waterworks Parade. The different floats all sprayed water on the people watching the parade on Main Street, and because it was blisteringly hot, getting wet was a good thing.



Life lesson learned: Three days of boozing can be cured by a day in Disneyland! 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tokyo Story

L. and I just saw  Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953). It's a wonderful movie, and one that everyone has to see.  It's about on old married couple from a provincial town in Japan who travel to Tokyo to visit their children. The children, though happy to see their parents, have no time to spend with them because their jobs and own families keep them busy. 
Though the movie was made more than 50 years ago, anyone who lives far away from their parents may find the theme familiar. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Obama girl

I'm not American, but I do like following the news about Barack Obama. As an outsider, I think the fact that he became a major political party's presidential nominee has done much to (greatly) improve what we think of Americans. (Did you guys see his speech about race?) It will be interesting to see what happens if he does become president.


Plus, seeing him in the news more often doesn't sound too bad. He's pretty.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Bangkok Weekend


I was in Bangkok over the weekend for Loan Negotiation Training. Being a good associate and grateful as I was for this generous opportunity from my employer to help me become a better lawyer, I made sure I ate a lot of Thai food, had many foot massages, went shopping and spent one night happily buzzed.

Eighteen (relatively) young associates from three of the firm's Asian offices congregated at the very serious and academically inclined convention center - the Marriott Resort and Spa. Here's what it looks like from the outside:


Faced with this daunting facade, I realized the firm meant business when it said we had to take the training seminar seriously. In fact, the firm gave us all a junior suite each, just so that we could concentrate on our work at night. 

I arrived at the hotel at 8 p.m., and I immediately went straight to work at the Oasis spa, where I had the annoying task of going through a traditional foot massage with a mint and jasmine scrub. Here's a picture of the spa:

As it was only 10 p.m. when I finished my spa ordeal, I decided to join some colleagues for a simple dinner of Thai seafood at the local market. Being young and sprightly, we all went to the night market after dinner where we grudgingly went shopping.

The next day was the true training day, so we of course had three buffet meals to keep us all happy. At night, we continued to toil at Sky Bar, an open air bar at the roof top of a 63 storey building. The skyline of Bangkok is spread out in front of you, to the tune of a live blues band. Here's a picture:


We made our way after that to a club named Twist, which went well with our..uhm.. heightened sense of perception.  The bar there was neon and heat sensitive (an initial ripple appears on the countertop when exposed to heat, and when it detects movement, waves form to follow the direction of the movement), so while the others of our group danced, I sat with K. and we experimented with the bar countertop with our hands and tumblers of drinks, and the result was truly amusing and awesome (but, I am sure, only for the enlightened).

The next day, I was hung over with dread as we neared the end of our training. It looked like everyone was too, and the partners of the firm (God bless them), asked the resort to make our coffees extra strong while we spurted out words like "relevant inter-bank market" and "ratcheting margin" to keep ourselves focused.

Our one last hurrah for this weekend was a (huge) chili crab lunch. With tom yung kung. And green curry chicken. And fried squid. And shrimp rice.

Bangkok is unbelievably boring.