February 12, 2011
Another week passed. Over the past 15 years it has been very rare for me to spend two straight weeks in the office. I am still trying to get used to the US office which is a bit sterile and does not have the same comfortable feel as my Shanghai office. I like being around the people, some of whom I have known for over 20 years, but I miss my corner office in Shanghai with the city view (albeit often clouded by pollution); the churning mass of humanity below striving to make China a superpower.
I had a mid week break as some Japanese customers visited Charlotte for a meeting but more importantly golf. I have known the elder of my three guests, Yamaguchi san, since 1995. We have played golf from Shanghai to Pinehurst but most frequently in Tokyo.
The first time I played 18 holes in a foursome on my new home course in North Carolina was with three people from Japan - strangely appropriate I guess. We stopped on the 15th hole - walked over to my backyard (complete with a stone lantern and Japanese "kane" aka hanging bell) to introduce my wife, Connie, to my guests while Yuki - our Chinese dog with a Japanese name that we got from a French woman in an Irish bar in Shanghai barked at the top of her lungs. Seemed like a scene from a John Irving novel.......
The work week ended uneventfully. The weekend began comically as Connie and I attended a Chinese New Year dinner at the church we attend over the border in South Carolina. Not a Chinese face in the crowd but an excellent attempt to celebrate another culture. We enjoyed the Asian food - only one real Chinese dish in the mix but it didn't matter - the spirit was right. The ex Irish cop from Boston who was emceeing announced the traditional dragon dance and then the lucky draw took place. As newcomers we were asked several times where we came from. When we replied "China"; everyone got a good laugh. Nobody though we were serious. Connie won two prizes in the lucky draw. A Chinese New Year Party in South Carolina - great way to start a weekend.
Saturday morning was beautiful and sunny. I began the day with my weekend custom of logging onto the Financial Times website to read two things - Lunch with FT and Tyler Brule's column. Lunch with FT introduces me to many interesting people I might never otherwise heard of or cared about. I have nothing in common in with Tyler Brule except for logging a lot of flight miles and staying in some of the same hotels around Asia. Mr Brule in the editor of a fashion magaizine and anyone who knows me knows that fashion isn't something I pay much attention to. Nevertheless, I always find the commentary on culture and society interesting especially through a lens totally different than my home. Not sure why the habit started or when it will end but this bit of normalcy to my week helps me feel at home no matter where I am. If only the New York Times would bring Ben Stein back.