At least twenty-three years ago

My late grandfather ran an import/export business in Hong Kong with a business partner. I actually don’t know the full range of the products he sold but one product was certainly clear to me. My grandfather’s sons and daughters, my mother and her siblings, who lived in Canada and elsewhere, started to return to Hong Kong during the summers in the 1980s with the grandchildren. For my branch of the family, we went back five consecutive summers such that I thought it would be the case forever but the trips back stopped abruptly after 1989. Each time we returned to Canada, we would be sent off with a pile of clothing from grandfather’s company which my mother, my sister and I wore for years afterwards. Come to think of it, my father didn’t wear that clothing either because we didn’t bring any back for him or he squirreled the items away and never wore them….

Of all the products grandfather exported, the one I got to know well was his Hawaii line of clothing. My uncles, my mother’s brothers, wore stiff striped polo shirts with “Hawaii” in a casual handwriting font stitched to the breast area. The item of clothing I remember best were beach cover-up pieces available in every colour imaginable all with a white palm tree ironed on and “Hawaii” in white written somewhere. These cover-ups were light cotton and essentially two rectangles of fabric sewn together with head, arm and leg holes. It did not really impress upon me at the time that tourists to Hawaii might actually buy the same pieces as souvenirs of their trips and I simply thought they were the ugliest clothing ever. That’s how a kid takes things for granted.

My memories of Hawaii, without going into false memories, are fairly limited. I only have real memories of a part of a feast with family and friends and a plate full of seriously impressively large tiger shrimp. I remember being at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. I remember the little Hawaiian Airlines airplane that got us from Honolulu to Maui in a flash. I remember being in a Mauna Loa (nut) store and being interested even back then in all the different flavours that we would buy up and bring back to Canada. And I remember the beach where the water was different hues of blue radiating from the shoreline from iridescent white and lavender at the shore to azure to dark blue in deep water.

Mum, who orchestrated our two trips to Hawaii (both times to Honolulu, one time to Maui), says it’s the place she wants to return to above all. The last year we went on the summer trips to Hong Kong was 1989 so that was the last possible year we went to Hawaii. Mum’s yearning for the island manifests in the entrees she designed for the restaurant: Honolulu Beef, Aloha Pork and Hawaiian Gai, stir-fries with fruit ingredients such as pineapple, cantaloupe, and orange. More recently, she has added Hawaiian Fried Rice which brings pineapple to fried rice… yum!

All this is to say that… NPY and I are going to Hawaii this fall! It’s our “big trip” for the year. NPY’s first time and, technically, my third. Just one week and just Honolulu/Oahu. I’m busy enough with work and studying but research and planning for the trip is the cherry on top. The last two quarters of this year are filled with study, travel and (half-)marathons just to keep me from being idle and getting into trouble! :D


On this day..