Well now that Christmas has passed, it’s time for Chinese New Year. I remember twelve years ago clearly. It was the year 2000 and everybody was anticipating the arriving Dragon year, and not anxiously awaiting the 2000 computer bug. Back in those days my friends lived in modest apartments, with minimal décor, and we savored all things that we could bring back into the mainland on the airplane. I can remember that New Year clearly because it was the first time that I had Calvados. An older French dude brought back a bottle from his family’s reserve, as they do, and we got dibs on it as we got into Chinese New Year at his house. Let me tell you how excited everybody was at the coming new century. I mean it was the year of the Dragon, and the year 2000 all at once. So why not be excited? It was similar to sitting in a bar full of oil explorers back in the west when there was oil there, or maybe it was like sitting in another brothel with a bunch of gold diggers who had just hit a modest jackpot. Everybody had this taste in their mouths. This taste of getting rich. Now that time has gone by, and many if not all of my friends from twelve years ago have gone, I’m losing a bit of those aspirations. After all how many of those opportunities have I missed? Didn’t I convince that now famous garment maker to get his first computer? And didn’t he offer me a part of his business back in the day? And didn’t I refuse him because I didn’t want to be a part of his “slave” labor trade? How stupid was I? Or rather how stupid am I?
And now another year of the Dragon is approaching us, and am I excited about the future? Well yes, I am. After all can’t I pay five times the rent that I used to pay back in 2000? Can I pay for a taxi ride to meet prospective clients? Can I pay one kuai more for a carton of yogurt? Yes, yes, and yes. Back in the day of dreaming like that oil miner, I used to count my one kuai coins to see if I could afford a fangbian mian, and no, it wasn’t because I was lazy or anything, it was because I was starting a company that couldn’t pay the bills. And I refused to be a partner with one of the most successful clothes manufacturers in town. As Frank Sinatra said, I tried to do it My Way. So now here I sit, able to pay for my taxis, and able to pay my overinflated rent, and overpriced yogurt, and am I happy? Well then I guess yes that I am. I mean I’m not making the big bucks or anything, but at least I can get by. So please don’t bitch and moan the next time that you might see me, and think about the position that you were in twelve years ago, and hasn’t it gotten better?
By Tim Hoerle