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Tuesday, 12th April 2011

A little yearning

I will soon be leaving service. If you ask me which aspect of the Observatory I will miss most, I would say it is the people here, whom I have enjoyed working with on the past 30 years and who have given me relentless support and encouragement. They are friends forever.

I will also miss the place. The Observatory has been operating in Mount Elgin since 1883. For the past 128 years, it has weathered countless storms but remained committed to protecting the safety of the public from hazardous weather.

Figure 1     Open Day and School Visit
Figure 1      Open Day and School Visit

Similar to past years, the Observatory was open to the public during the weekend of 26 and 27 March, where people survey the various exhibits, sample educational games, try out new services, stroll around, take pictures and chat with the staff.

The Observatory ground is open not only on these two days. Practically every day, teachers will lead students in their regular visits to the Observatory. The students probably would never remember everything they are told about the Observatory and its work, but many years later they surely will recall the time they spent there, which must be a nice break from the routines. There will also be groups of people from organizations and institutions who would come and see the Observatory for the first time, and go home enlightened.

Every weekend, a voluntary member from the Friends of the Observatory will guide 20 to 30 members of the public and walk them through an eco-tour, describing the birds, trees and plants in the compound as well as revealing tidbits about the Observatory and its history. In this small piece of oasis, you tend to forget you are right at the heart of the busiest area in Kowloon.

Figure 2     Lanes and greenery at the Observatory
Figure 2      Lanes and greenery at the Observatory

For colleagues of the Observatory, the narrow lanes in the compound are where they take a stroll during lunchtime and after work. Who knows whether it is those moments in the Observatory woods when inspiration and ideas come up. In our annual surveys of staff opinion, it is the environment and job satisfaction that routinely creep up among the items they are most happy about.

The place is also where Observatory colleagues have their round-the-hill running each year - a wonderful relief from work.

Figure 3     Round-the-hill run
Figure 3      Round-the-hill run

For me, I will miss the weekly jogging up and down the mount, where for a precious 40 minutes or so, I can be all to myself, listening to the rustling of trees, to the birds and the insects. Stopping to take a breath, you will see seeds or fruits on the ground. Even trying to figure out which trees they come from is a pleasure. For that brief period of time, I contemplate my work, my family, my friends, and my life. I will ask myself : Have I done anything wrong lately? or anything right? It is the moment of truth.

If I am to choose a piece of music to share with you, I will pick "A little yearning". It was cabaret music composed by Friedrich Hollaender during the 1930s in Germany, where life was hard and there seemed to be no end to it. Yet the music offers hope and better times ahead. Just listen to the lyrics :

"My day is gray, your day is gray
 can't get the sun to shine
 Together we may break through the clouds
 if you put your hand in mine
 We walk a road it's long and it's hard
 we're freightened but if we try
 we'll keep our minds filled with beautiful dreams
 and build castles in the sky."

B.Y. Lee

Last revision date: <17 Jan 2013>