Our diarist Anthea Kreston is finding pitfalls in her lotus life:
Mid-way through a tour of Asia, sitting in the luxury of my room in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central Hong Kong, I find myself in a tangle of wonder, excitement, and loneliness. You see, my life has turned into one of those books you read about famous string quartets – I am picked up in a Limo at the airport, addressed by name as I enter the lobby of the impossibly decadent hotel (no need to check in – it has already been done), get to my room -which has bouquets of flowers (with dew on the petals), baskets of exotic fruits, and hand-written notes from Warner Asia, am driven to the incredible, huge and acoustically perfect concert halls, where my personal dressing room is outfitted with a wonderful spread (even the hotel concierge knows that I am a vegetarian, as they hand me my custom snack for the next leg of the tour). I see posters of our group, one story tall, on the sides of buildings. Also, like in the books, we stay on different floors, eat at separate tables, and see each other only on stage, where each of us is in top form, and performs at our highest level. The CD signing area has audience members lined up all the way through the lobby – it takes the better part of an hour to sign the CDs and programs, and take photos before we are escorted to the after-dinners. A short sleep is followed by a repeat of the already stated, with an escort to the airport, where we are equally spread across Business Class, and the warmed nuts and champagne are delivered.
I am very aware that any number of people could be doing my my exact job – that I am in no way special or extra-talented or unique. I just happen to be the person doing this job at this moment. That is where the disconnect happens.
I am a funny mix of extremely social, totally independent, and able to entertain myself in a million different ways, endlessly. And so, this kind of thing can actually suit me pretty well. I do look forward to those two windows of time that I can try to catch my family on FaceTime (as they are getting ready for school, or immediately after school). Those are important. But also, I get out and about – last night in Hong Kong was our first day without a concert (we had two in Taipei, two in Tongyeong and one in Seoul so far). I booked a place on a Junk Boat tour of the Hong Kong harbor to see the Symphony of Lights (the biggest light show on the planet, with music and buildings on both sides of the water in a wondrous, synchronized show). These fully-battened seagoing ships were first in use in the 2nd century, and as we landed in Hong Kong, delayed because of a Typhoon, I wondered to myself if this was a good night to be going on a cruise. But, they were sailing, and so was I. The show was incredible, with the foggy night, pierced by laser lights which beamed from one shore to the other. As a woman alone, I attracted more than several middle-aged business men, but luckily I am adept at firmly but funnily steering clear of the offers of drinks.
It was already late as I got off the boat – two burly sailors firmly grabbing each passenger, waiting until the boat swung back close enough to the dock to toss each passenger in turn to the the two sailors on shore. I thought for one moment before deciding to extend my adventure to the famous Temple Street Night Market – and as I wandered my way through the maze of steaming food stalls and people hawking every manner of wares, my shirt became wet with the dense humidity of a sleepless city at midnight.
And so, I have tried each day to take an adventure, to rest and prepare for the evening’s concert, to eat well and sleep enough. And to navigate through this surreal life – one which I feel I have already read about in a book.