I had not met a childhood friend for years, until this week. Ostensibly it's because he has a growing business on the mainland while I spend most of my time in Hong Kong. The real reason is that we simply drifted apart as we grew older and had our own families and children. A bunch of us have been friends since we were classmates at a Catholic primary school and used to have gatherings regularly, to gamble playing cards and mahjong.
But I got bored over the years because our conversation topics were always the same: soccer, soccer gambling, horse-race gambling, other sports, including sports cars, and women. As we got older, we added children and schooling to our conversations. As post-60s children, we never thought much about politics. It was just beyond our mental horizon to protest in the streets and fight with police.
So I was expecting more talks about children and schooling when my friend called me and a mutual pal up this week. We did talk a bit about that, until we inadvertently turned our conversation to Occupy Central. My friend has had a conversion on the road to Damascus! "I am joining it next year," he declared.
"You got your sleeping bag?" we asked, half-jokingly.
"No, no, I am serious. We have to do something. Benny Tai [Yiu-ting, organiser of Occupy Central] is not like 'Long Hair' [Leung Kwok-hung] or Wong Yuk-man. He has a serious aim. So do others who are joining him."
Seeing how earnest he was, my other pal and I started laughing even more loudly. "But you will be breaking the law."
"Fine, I go to jail then. If you do nothing, Beijing will just ignore us and do nothing. We don't want to see Hong Kong 'mainlandised', and become another Shanghai or Shenzhen. You people live all your life in Hong Kong. I have spent half my life on the mainland. I know how things work on the mainland and you don't want Hong Kong to end up like that.
"We may still get nothing with universal suffrage. But at least we are trying. You people are sitting on your *****; you are so shallow."
Last time I saw such fervour was when another friend discovered Christianity.
Seeing my old friend in a detention cell was never a possibility in my mind. Now it is. My friend has just become a lot more interesting. I must not let him out of my life this time.