The word from Singapore and Hong Kong

I just got some very good news from the company in Singapore I am talking with, and they have made it clear the offer will come by Friday. I’ve been racked with second thoughts, pangs of guilt for letting down my current employer, incredible bouts of heartsickness over being so far from my friend, and depression over the extremely grim outlook of the US economy. I spoke on the phone with the bf today and told him how much I want to go home, but he was blunt about it — things are shaky over there and to have a job right now is to be considered lucky. His own company is in the process of cutting his department by 25 percent.

Today I also communicated with my old colleagues in Hong Kong. It seems that SARS is all that Hong Kong is now about. My own company here in Beijing sent out an email offering free surgical masks to anyone who wants one (and I was shocked to see so many passengers aboard my recent flights to/from Singapore wearing them). My old company in HK is instructing all executives from overseas to cancel their visits to the island. Tourism, of course, is in tatters.

If you knew what HK was looking like when I left last summer, you would know just how agonizing this must be. I still remember all the taxis standing in huge lines, with no passengers to be had. Left and right people were burning charcoal (the favored way to take one’s life in HK, suffocating on the carbon monoxide fumes) and the general spirit of misery was palpable. So in the midst of this anguish, yet another bombshell blasts the not-so-long-ago thriving and invincible business hub of Asia. It seems HK has fallen and it can’t get up. I believe they’ll recover, to a large extent, but I don’t see how they can return to anything close to the glory days of pre-1997. There’s been a tectonic shift, and at times it looks as though HK might be swallowed up altogether….

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