At some point in time, the conversation transformed into a discussion on future career options.
According to my wife, L was very interested to know about my new job. Furthermore L was quite excited when she found out which area of investment banking I'm now working in.
L declared that investment bankers in this particular area are in very high demand in Hong Kong. Furthermore, she said, they would command significantly higher salaries there. (This is no doubt true - in general, bankers, lawyers, doctors, accountants and many other categories of professionals earn more in Hong Kong than in Singapore).
"But he can't possibly move yet," said Mrs Wang mildly. "He just started in his new job."
"Sure, sure. Maybe not now." said L. "Move in 2008 then, or by 2009. But better move quick, while the market is hot."
"Well, what about ME and my job?" asked Mrs Wang.
"Oh, I'll find a new one for you in Hong Kong, if you like. ," said L breeezily. "That will be quite easy. You'll also earn more. Or if you prefer, you could be a tai tai, at least until your kids are settled in. Now, let me tell you about the education options ...."
The conversation went on and on, and Mrs Wang became more and more excited. Now she has it in her head that Mr & Mrs Wang and the little kids should all pack their bags and boxes and head off to Hong Kong. Where L will no doubt visit us on the weekends to tell us more about schools, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, clinics and other need-to-know places in Hong Kong.
"But I don't want to go to Hong Kong," I said. "I just started in my new job."
"Sure, sure. Maybe not now." said Mrs Wang breezily. "Move in 2008 then, or by 2009. But better move quick, while the market is hot. Now, let me tell you about the education options ..."
I still don't like the idea of moving to Hong Kong. Firstly, I don't want to be too far from my parents. Secondly, the air pollution in Hong Kong is quite bad. Thirdly, I don't speak Cantonese very well. Fourth, the whole idea of relocating my family, the sheer hassle of moving and uprooting everything ..... is daunting.
But from the strategic big picture, as China steadily continues to transform into a global economic powerhouse, it could be better in the long run, for my kids to grow up closer to where the action really is. To me, this idea does have strong appeal.
And I know that in my own head, I am probably exaggerating the adjustment issues. Seriously, every day at work, I meet foreigners who have come from all over the world to Singapore. Many of them come with spouse, kids and/or pet dog in tow. They all seem to have adapted just fine. It is NOT, after all, such a big deal to relocate/emigrate and adjust to a new life.
Mrs Wang happened to have raised the topic at the time when the PAP ministers had just announced their latest plans to rape taxpayers. This does make me just a little more inclined to consider the possibility of moving to Hong Kong.
It really shouldn't be that relevant. But with each passing year, the Singapore government just keeps finding new ways to undermine my sense of rootedness to this country. Why stay? - if indeed one day I will end up feeling like a stranger in my own home.