I had intended to get this blog up and running long before we actually arrived in Hong Kong, but the final flurry of activity leading up to our departure made that unfeasible. So here we are, settling into our apartment in Kowloon, and gradually—oh, so gradually—adjusting to life in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
I hemmed and hawed about what the name of this blog should be. There is considerable pressure—or at least I thought there was considerable pressure—to think up something memorable. More than a few god-awful puns crossed my mind, but nothing seemed quite right. Then, this summer, while on a long road trip from Chicago to the East Coast and back, Cate and I listened to a series of fascinating lectures on the history of modern China, and of course references to the Forbidden City abounded. It’s hard to imagine a more evocative or provocative name for a place, notwithstanding the considerable irony that nowadays floods of tourists flow in and out.
So every time the lecturer mentioned a Chinese emperor, I’d think “How cool would it be to live in a place called the Forbidden City?” But, as anyone who’s ever watched The Last Emperor knows, it actually wouldn’t be that cool at all: locked gates work in two directions, and all that stuff. Surely it would be better to live in an unforbidden city.
But ultimately, “unforbidding” is aspirational—it’s my hope for the coming year. HK is legendarily full of hustle and bustle; we’ve already experienced a little bit of that in just a few days, and we haven’t even made it into the dense fray yet. We have been told to expect to be a bit overwhelmed, sometimes even a lot overwhelmed, by the all-out, near-constant energy, movement, and sound. So the name of this blog is an ambition—that we should as much as possible, I hope, be awed, be impressed, even be exhausted by all that we find around us; but that we should never find it forbidding.