By Hans Ebert
Kristine entered my life soon after my breakup with Irina and my mother passing away from the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease which turned into full blown dementia. Though divorced by then, Trina flew down to Melbourne many times to keep a promise she had made to herself: My mother should leave this world with dignity. It’s extraordinary everything she did when she could have just walked away. For this, I will be forever in her debt.
As for Kristine, she was introduced to me by two social networking blonde twins in Hong Kong who would make themselves available for the opening of an envelope.
Being Danish, they had met Kristine, an urban planner. on Facebook. She was coming to Hong Kong from Dubai to work on a job for the office out here. She was around 36, divorced, and attractive in a Sandra Bullock way. We met through the twins, went out once, but there were certainly no immediate fireworks. The fireworks and rockets went off after she returned to Dubai and we kept in touch through text messages and phone calls. There was something about her…and phone calls could be very seductive.
Though we met in Hong Kong and never thought it would lead anywhere, it did. It somehow led to us meeting up in in Colombo on Boxing Day while she was holidaying with friends in Kandy in Sri Lanka and “sealing the deal” one night at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel before realising that we needed to be together on a more longtime basis. I was still with EMI and life was good. And now I had met someone who I found to be intensely interesting and no bimbo.
The Kristine Years were a roller coaster ride comprising many types of different highs and lows that made us know deep down that there would be no Happily Ever After. We had different priorities so it was let’s just enjoy the ride while we can. Though we lasted for around four years, they were a surreal time of Eyes Wide Shut and going down some very slippery slopes with our eyes wide open until there was the realisation that she didn’t belong in Hong Kong and we didn’t belong together. Even Shades Of Grey can’t keep one shackled to yet another addictive lifestyle.
Though some friends were glad to see Kristine leave as they considered her “bad feng shui”, our time together was fun and interesting and intense while it lasted. She made me give up drinking, lead a more healthy lifestyle and be more circumspect about people. But there comes a time for a reality check and the need to get back to actually doing instead of just being and blindly following someone leading a gypsy’s lifestyle.
Kristine and I moved apartments three times and each time we did, it was another nail in the coffin. It was draining and made more stressful as I was silently and stoically dealing with the death of my father of a heart attack. He was 94. He had begged me to come and see him, but I never made the time. I didn’t even attend his funeral in Melbourne. Trina and Taryn did. As Sinatra sang, That’s life.
I seemed to be led by the nose with absolutely no interest in where we moved as long as it made her happy. She had that gypsy in her soul which was attractive for a while. Later, it became goofy and unbalanced. It became an albatross around my neck that I couldn’t shake. That fierce ambitious fire inside of me wasn’t burning brightly anymore. I wasn’t making anything happen for myself. I wasn’t tryin to hit any home runs out of the park. But we walked through many parks and Kristine did show me a Hong Kong I never knew existed- the very local side to the city.
Kristine was a great girl who was caring, a giving lover and brilliant cook. She had even mastered how to make a typical Sri Lankan meal after a trip to Galle. She was adventurous and outgoing whereas I preferred a more pukka five star lifestyle. It must have been the Burgher in me.
During our time together came Taryn’s wedding and to which Kristine was not invited as Trina would be there. I understood the awkwardness of what might happen, but it must have been tough for Kristine to accept.
It’s a good thing she wasn’t invited as the wedding, held at a luxurious Amanresort in Bali, was an event choreographed to the minute by Taryn’s mother and mother-in-law. After the ceremonies and time for dinner, I was seated away from the family which was both humiliating and disappointing. I often wonder if they ever realised how I felt. Or was this some weird penance I was paying for unpaid sins? One does not do this to one’s flesh and blood, let alone their own father. An oversight? Okay.
While internalising this seating arrangement, I was surprised to be asked to make an impromptu speech. If there’s one thing I do extremely well, it’s make speeches, something learned from all those years making presentations when in advertising and the music industry. But this wasn’t the right audience and my off-the-cuff remarks had Taryn’s mother-in-law jump onstage like some crazed banshee and basically haul me off. This added to the humiliation and is still a topic of discussion in Hong Kong and even reached Facebook status. I had done and said nothing I considered to be wrong and those with whom I was seated were as confused about what had happened as I was. But apparently I had committed some cardinal sin and had made what should have been a happy occasion implode into an avalanche of goofy hysterics.
Everything escalated from there and I received text messages a few hours later from my daughter ordering me not to attend her wedding in Hong Kong and not to be on the same flight back home with everyone else. That was fine with me. No longer was this “daddy’s little girl”.
Coming back to Kristine after this trip from hell was not exactly a happy return. Taryn had sent her a long email about what a bad person I was. My head needed a different resting place. On top of this, EMI had been sold and payouts were being negotiated. The last thing I needed was to continue carrying a girlfriend with no job with financial problems of her own, and needing someone to bail her out. Ageism became part of the stew. I was also facing life without a family and figuring out my next career move. I needed that home run more than any woman.
With nothing happening for her in Hong Kong, Kristine returned to Denmark and a few days later wrote to say that quite by chance she had found someone “VERY rich”- a divorcée with three grown up kids and whom she was to marry. I knew different and wasn’t surprised. Suddenly, whether true or not, came a deluge of information about Kristine’s past from her so-called Danish friends in Hong Kong. It didn’t make pleasant reading.
My attempts to reconcile with Taryn have been met with silence. I was sent no photographs of her wedding- not that I think I am in any. My grand daughter doesn’t know I exist so let’s keep it this way and not confuse the little girl. Trina’s mantra regarding my non-relationship with Taryn has been, “Give her time.” Please.
Time ran out a few years ago. I will always respect and love Trina, especially for how she looked after my parents, but she really doesn’t know me well enough to understand that there comes a time when I stop apologising and asking for forgiveness. It gets tedious and pointless and a waste of energy. It’s not where I want to be.
I have deleted many people from my life and deleting a daughter who also isn’t part of my life is not exactly something I need to think twice about. The last thing I need is another hypocritical group hug in the name of Christianity and then have to walk on eggshells while waiting for the next bridge to be detonated.
I am today in a happy place. I have written my own obituary- it’s a beaut- and finalised my last will and testament and have picked how I wish to leave this world. I’m now like Django unchained. The very few close friends around me agree that there’s no point trying to make amends. Just move on and keep moving in the right direction.
I’m creating again. I am back writing- writing music, writing short stories and will start working on a short movie I have wanted to make for many years. I am back living at Convention Plaza. The Grand Hyatt is right next door and company is always close at hand.
Deleted and blocked are many of life’s human sponges from the past. I’m far more selective about who I choose to be around and who to trust.
I travel when I want without announcing it to the world and have met some wonderful people- women, men, children, artists in every creative field. While one door shuts, a new one opens and there’s an excitement about wondering who might walk in to my life.
Will I remarry? That’s not a closed door anymore and neither is having children again. The two don’t necessarily have to go hand in hand.
Deep inside, I’m still the “darkie” Burgher kid who came from Ceylon to Hong Kong not knowing what to expect, had a very odd relationship with his parents, and had to fight for many many years to prove myself and win the respect of others.
I did this through being streetwise and able to read people and grasp the opportunities that came my way without ever being a snake or fake. What you see is what you get. Take it for what it’s worth.
Music and getting to the heart and soul of music and losing myself in it saved my life. It’s been a fascinating journey- and a new journey has begun with a new soundtrack to my life and a very different cast of players.
From the upcoming book “One Burgher To Go (with all the trimmings)
She took me to the abyss
And said goodbye with a kiss
With a nonchalant smile
And a shrug of the shoulders
She said well that’s just the way it is
We all need to move on
To where it suits us best
We might not be with who we love
But fate will do the rest
To be continued…
#hansebert #hongkong #love #marriage #family #danish #srilanka #dubai #relationships