On New Year’s Eve, we made our way to George Square in Glasgow’s City Centre.“You’ll get free kisses from handsome young men, I’m sure,” Hongmei did not look serious, but neither was she joking.
“What do you mean?” I responded with a question.
“You’ll see. A pretty girl like you… ”
“C’mon, Hongmei. Stop flattering me,” I cut short Hongmei’s comments. Ever since my arrival, every time Hongmei introduced me to her many acquaintances and friends, she would refer to my good looks. She meant well, I knew, but still, it began to get on my nerves. I was not some kind of walking vase for Hongmei to show off.
Arriving at the square, we joined a huge crowd gathered around the massive Christmas tree, illuminated by colourful and sparkly lights. I posed for the camera in the beautifully lit, cheerfully packed and buzzing with happy clattering, city square.
“Hey, beautiful!” Two good-looking young Scotsmen, smiled their friendly smiles and stood next to me, one with his arm wrapped around my shoulder, while the other put his hand on my waist. There went the flash. Before I knew it, they each planted a kiss on my cold cheeks. “Happy New Year!” They laughed heartily.
It was not yet midnight, but their show of love deeply touched me, their warmth on that chilly night spread from my cheeks to my heart. It was there to stay.
During my ten-day break in Scotland, Hongmei accompanied me to Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Loch Lomond. While Edinburgh and Glasgow offered grand architecture and sites full of historical heritage and cultural significance, St. Andrews and the Scottish lochs brought wonderful, rather dramatic impressions of Mother Nature. I fell in love with Scotland on that very first visit; her hospitality and beauty, despite its severely wintry weather and almost unintelligible accent.
The above short excerpt from The Same Moon recorded part of my very first visit to Scotland in 1988, the year when I arrived in the UK. With Scotland in the news recently and last Thursday’s public vote to stay or leave the United Kingdom, I thought it is appropriate for me to share a little bit of my personal feelings towards that beautiful country.
I am mightily relieved that Scotland did not break away, as I had feared. I would be genuinely saddened if she became independent, not because she does not deserve it, but because of my enormous emotional attachment towards her. I always tell people the Edinburgh is the most beautiful British city, and Glasgow is one of my favourite cities on earth. I am glad that I can continue to make the same claims and visit that dear, enchanting land whenever I feel like it.