Sunday, March 13, 2005

Celebrating literature in Hong Kong

“When you fly to Hong Kong, try to get a window seat,” I remembered these words of advice from the Fodor’s Travel Guidebook while looking down the window. The airplane was losing altitude for the landing that was to happen in the next few minutes. “As you approach the coast of china you’ll see a few small, rocky islands, tiny fishing boats, and sailboats in the channels leading into Hong Kong Harbour—one of the Most spectacular harbours in the world.” I was enjoying the transmogrification of these words into reality as the plane approached the Chek Lap Kok airport.

I was going to Hong Kong to attend the HK International Literary Festival. The festival was in its fifth year and was soon becoming one of Asia’s most important literary festivals. For me the highlight of the festival was the predominance of writers from India or those who were writing on India. Though the Australian writers were also a force to reckon with, led by the Booker Prize winner, Thomas Kneally, I was more interested in the Indian voices. The festival was to sort of culminate with a speech by Alan Hollinghurst, last year’s booker prize winner.

Chek Lap Kok is really sophisticated and mammoth. “The passenger terminal is a mile long and could encompass those at Heathrow and JFK combined,” claimed the Guidebook rightly. I was impressed even though I was coming from Singapore’s Changi International airport.

Without much ado, I checked out of the immigration. I had been advised to buy an octopus pass that would allow me unlimited travel in the underground train. I bought the card and I took the airport express train to the Hong Kong island. The train was quite comfortable and sleek. It gave me scenic views of the seaside and the high rises. In half an hour I was in Hong Kong central where my hotel was. Once I was in my hotel, I readied myself for a plunge into the literary events.

March 7, 2005


Susan Abraham said...

And please do tell us more, Zafar. Hong Kong is such a great place to be, isn't it. It features a real-life cinemascope of colour and brilliance from its crowds just so to engage the traveller and balances the old and new perfectly in suspended cultures throughout time. No boundaries, no barriers, nothing...

Zafar Anjum said...

Yes, Susan. HK is such a lively place, so full of energy. It was a heady experience. And, yes, more is coming. Cheers!