Tricky little title isn't it? Comes from a remorseful Mekong whiskey-Beaujolais hangover-driven ditty written in a sweat-dripping room on The Peak. This is one of many notes, scibblings really, of many time-stopped moments.
In the world of Suzie Wong
Everything ends at 4:30pm
The sun always sits on the horizon
Balanced on the fingertips of a small hand
The water, like fabric, smooth at the edges
Small boats weave into the large ones
Her eyes are French
Her lips are Italian
Her body is... her body
4:30pm and she disappears
4:30pm the light fades and the harbor disappears
She was not a fantasy of Suzie Wong. Her name is Rossina, she's Eurasian... Italian-French and Chinese, very Chinese and very Italian. Like the movie, every time together, she disappeared, had to go at 4:30pm. Like the movie, the beauty of Hong Kong, its watercolor hills surrounding the blue bath harbor, its shuddering light that seems to come from below rather than above, its stir-fry of persona and traffic and winds, the laughter... all fade and disappear at 4:30pm.
At night, Hong Kong becomes a different movie, a video-game of dream-stained neon, of pulsing echoes, unrecognizable music, voices, sounds, the shrill laughter. To be alone at night in Hong Kong is to be in the deepest pit of loneliness on a cold, earthen floor. I try not to ever be alone at night in Hong Kong. I've had my share of abundant help to stay clear of that unforgiving pit.
4:30pm like the solstices everywhere is a mysterious time of convergence. Light comes down to eye level, sound drifts behind the ears, smells become muted into tastes, touch becomes electric and submissive. The blend sashays into twilight and fades. Night is another world on another planet in another galaxy.
Rossina would come back on some nights when the memory-feel of 4:30pm mercilessly lingered in the bottles, in the glasses, on the walls, on the skin. She knew. Women are wonderful aren't they? They have a sense by design, by natural cultivation, of the needed time of a lover. I'm sorry my gay male friends, if you haven't experienced the unpredictable, uncanny sensuality, sensuousness of a woman... you've missed an existential treasure. And you won't find it in the wonder of another man. The male by design is one wonder short.
Hong Kong in its region shines like a jewel above the morass of Bangkok and Kuala Lampur and Jakarta. It winks at Beijing and Tokyo. It laughs at Taipei. But it is not Paris or Rome or San Francisco... except on any day, in sun or rain or cold or typhoon... at 4:30pm.