Love In the Time of SARS

Hong Kong – Toronto
April 5, 2003

Hong Kong Airport

Things got a bit nutty with Maria in Buenos Aires and we broke up. But a week before I left for India, I met Fai, the girl of my dreams. She is sexy, smart and loves to eat Chinese. The six degrees of separation between us are almost freaky. I think it was fate.

Here I am catching my connecting flight to Mumbai in this eerie empty airport on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. I’m the only one online at these normally jammed packed computer stations. SARS has vacated these premises this morning. I can’t find Fai online. It’s late evening in Toronto right now. I hope she’ll be dreaming about me in her sleep tonight.

I find out on MSN that the Iraqi War just started a few hours ago. First there’s SARS… now the war… just my luck. I finally meet the ONE and the world’s coming to an end. Call me a silly superstitious fool… but when things seem too good to be true, my neurosis gets the better of me.


April 5, 2003 – Toronto, Canada

While in India during the SARS outbreak, Cheuk and I decided to skip dinner with Mr. Tung at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. We wanted to live through this SARS thing and make it to Argentina and Peru for our remaining stories later this summer.

Cheuk flew home from Mumbai by way of Amsterdam, and I through Hong Kong as there were no other Cathay Pacific flights to bypass it. I was given surgical masks and rubber gloves during the flight. Meals were hard to deal with; I kept forgetting to remove my mask before the meals and would end up with food messed all over my masked mouth. The worst part was the stopover in Thailand where space-suited mutants barged into the plane and hosed down the interior with some mystery disinfectant without any warning or explanation.

I’m tanned and back in the middle of a late winter snowstorm. I’ve missed Fai so much but I’m supposed to be in self-quarantine for two weeks because of SARS. This is gonna drive me bonkers. My mom even told me to stay away from her house. But Fai was brave enough to show up at my front door while I was shoveling snow that night. She must really like me a lot or just impulsive by nature. I brought back a sari for her from Mumbai. We couldn’t figure out how it works. But I’m sure she would look stunning in it once we figure it out. So much for the quarantine, so if we die… we’ve already got a head start… because we’re both high in heaven.