27 November 2008

Seeing an Old Friend 老友相聚

I had lunch with an old friend today.

Vincent and I go way back. We went to the same school eons ago. My friend was something of a legend for being at the top of the class year after year. A Renaissance Man in the truest sense, Vincent’s interests range from philosophy and quantum physics to classical music and literature. Because of his many esoteric pursuits, the precocious teenager was neither the most approached nor the most approachable at school. He was relegated to a very small circle of friends, and I was one of them. His reclusive dispositions were a personal choice to him but highbrow snobbery to others. To me, however, Vincent was simply ahead of his time.

Happily married to a lovely wife with a baby boy, Vincent now teaches full-time at a leading university in Hong Kong and pursues his writing career part-time. Every time Vincent publishes a new book, he invites me for lunch and gives me an autographed copy fresh off the press. I was thrilled to receive an honorary mention in the foreword to one of his early works.

This afternoon we decided to have lunch in SoHo. As soon as we sat down at the table, Vincent, true to form, whipped out a pen and signed a copy of his fourth book before sliding it across the table toward me. A fifth title is already in the works, he said. I congratulated him and, desperately trying to keep up, told him about some of the projects I was working on at the moment.

As the lunch went on, we exchanged our thoughts on García Márquez and Borges and argued about recordings of Brahms and Shostakovich. That’s what Vincent and I do whenever we are in the same room, just the way we used to back in our school days. Truth be told, Vincent and my two brothers, Kelvin and Dan, are probably the only people in the world with whom I can stay up all night talking politics, history, literature and music. They are the muses in my life, an inexhaustible source of inspiration. And if a person is lucky enough to find his muses, he knows all too well not to let them get away. Even though Vincent and I fell out of touch for almost two decades while I drifted from one city to another in North America, we managed to rekindle our friendship soon after I repatriated to Hong Kong, as if we had never been apart.

These days with family, work and our many side pursuits and pet projects, Vincent and I don’t get to see each other very often. But every once a while, we set a time and place and indulge in the simple pleasure of each other’s company. Today we did just that.


  1. I thought I was your muse! Aww, I enjoy our weekend brunches at Craftsteak!

  2. It's great seeing old friends. But at times, it's hard to strike a conversation with them. Everyone cannot always be on the same page at the same time. Some may "click" with each other, while others may don't understand the topic at all. It's always great to have a friend that you can "click" with, strike a conversation all night long. Enjoy...

  3. This is a wonderful piece, Jason, no idea how I could have missed it before.

    Hope I don't sound as if I am boasting, but there are few (and getting fewer and fewer) people who can sit up with me and talk about books and "philosophy" and theology and music and performing art and astrophysics with me as well. I used to be one of those recluse, though I never attained the status of a "highbrow snobbery" I have to admit not all of my interests align with the youngsters of my time.

    Anyway, truly happy for you that you've found your muse, and that even over the years, you two still manage to stay in touch and remain this close.

    Care to disclose the full name of Vincent and the titles of the books he has authored so I can check them out ?