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How did you two meet?

Julia: With our different backgrounds and professions, it’s unlikely that Hoi Yee and I would ever have met if it hadn’t been for the writing group, The Bauhinians.

A long time ago, a group of writers in Hong Kong signed up for a writing course that promised we would find “adventure” and “ourselves”.  Ours was a very eclectic group of women and one man.  We came from different walks of life, had different professions, and were all colours of the racial rainbow.

We worked against the clock on myriad writing exercises and then read our personal pieces aloud to the rest of the group.  We always stopped for food and alcohol, and smiles were on tap!

After the course finished, we continued to meet to write each week.  For over three years, we never missed a writing session.  We called ourselves the Bauhinians (after the national flower of Hong Kong), and met in a cosy function room at the historical Fringe Club, a converted dairy situated in a trendy neighbourhood.

But, Hong Kong being Hong Kong, people moved on to new lives in new cities, till only three of us were left;  an Australian, an Indian and English me.  Radha took up the challenge of recruiting new members and persuaded participants from another writing course to join the Bauhinians.

Hoi Yee was one of those participants.  But none of us had met her, so our only knowledge of her came through her curt text messages: “What is the room cost?”, “I’ll not be able to arrive on time”, “Does this price include food?”, “Who pays for the wine?” . . . eek!  What happened to “Thank you for inviting me.” “Would you mind if I arrived a little late?”.  Radha and I weren’t awfully confident that we wanted this autocrat to join our group.  Then one day, Hoi Yee announced that she “would give us a try”.  We were slightly daunted and not very optimistic.

We’d already started the session when there was a knock at the door, and in walked this lovely woman with a wide smile that lit up the room.  Radha and I just chuckled after that first session.  How wrong our fantasy impression had been!!

That was Hoi Yee’s and my first meeting.

Hoi Yee: Oh my gawd!  I’m so embarrassed, I am so embarrassed! (Face redder than a ripe tomato right now)  Yes, I recognize myself in that tone (oh, I’m still so embarrassed.)  Um, “Thank you for having invited me” . . . better late than never?