Every story must have an arbitrary starting point. This one starts at the play area of the Regal Riverside Hotel in Shatin (New Territories, Hong Kong). That's where I met Harry.
We'd done the full hotel breakfast experience and were set for a day of mainly leisure (me and the wee one that is). I waved off the smartly dressed wife, while some of us didn't really have time for that, and we both went to explore the hotel play area which we hadn't made time for prior to our final day of this stay. The outdoor playgrounds of Sha Tin Park are good!
Harry had retired from work in the hotel industry in Seattle after 15 years in the US and moved back home to Hong Kong to take care of his grandson. All his five sons had relocated back to Hong Kong so even without a grandchild I suspect a move here might have happened for the pensioner.
When he grew up in Vietnam he had to study first French and then English. Life has then taken him to work in both Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the United States and he has picked up languages on the way. Of the six languages he speaks French and Cantonese are the most difficult he said, even though he speaks Cantonese with his grandson.
Harry's looking after him until 5-6pm every night and teaches him English too. Mandarin on the other hand he'll get at school as it has been made compulsory in Hong Kong. But to learn as many languages as Harry I think you'll have to start early, and at the age of 2 children pick things up really quickly. Today neither of the kids said many words but they played nicely in the same area. Back to language, one would also need to work in a line of business where one gets to practice. Working with international customers on a daily basis must do wonders when it comes to keeping language skills in shape.
People with kids work full days here, or so I am told (by Harry and others) and in order to manage that workload while having a child people employ domestic helpers or make use of grandparents. At the play grounds I've met women tending other children and perhaps some of them were domestic helpers tending to other peoples children.
Parental leave here is 8 weeks I am told, so I will not be expecting many parents on leave with their children in the parks during office hours. Possibly stay at home parents, otherwise domestic helpers and grandparents. Maybe I'll meet Harry again too! Shatin is a nice child friendly area and we might (as it looks) get spot at a nursary preschool here.