Whimsical Times: Memories from Hong Kong
by Mukta Arya
Partridge Publishing

"...if you know your destination, you can always find a way to reach it."

Globally, many imagine Hong Kong as a forever stream of people and commerce, and yes, author Arya excellently describes the markets, boutiques, business atmosphere, styles, and fashion trends. But, discovering a country through the eyes of a new resident is extraordinary because readers can envision it as both a local and a newcomer. Everything is surprising. After all, who knew there were hiking trails in and around bustling Hong Kong?

The book is poetic in parts as well. "...life, like water, takes shape of whatever vessel it is poured into," writes Arya, referring to going back to visit Mumbai, adjusting immediately, and likewise returning to Hong Kong. Then there are the tips to getting on anywhere new. Arya suggests volunteering: "For the newcomer to the country, it's an uninhibited view of how people behave, communicate, laugh and interact with each other."

The entries are often inspiring. For example, as a shout-out to working women, Arya writes, "I couldn't help admiring the grit, tenacity, and capability of my professional colleagues, who took multiple competing priorities in stride..." A particularly touching musing is about seeing the world with new eyes each day, whether at work or play. This serves as an excellent reminder to never stop seeing the wonder in everyday things. The book is organized like a diary, with dated thoughts and experiences organized chronologically. Some chapters read like going out on the town with the author, allowing readers to enjoy whimsical times in Hong Kong along with her.

Arya works in human resources for a multi-national banking company. By poignantly sharing her thoughts and impressions along the way, she makes readers want to meet her, perhaps over a cup of masala chai tea in the city she so vividly writes about.

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