Having gotten my feet wet in Arizona (although somehow, one doesn’t associate Arizona with wet), I started to get more involved in my husband’s jewelry business. It was fascinating to see that oval sapphire turn into a beautiful ring, a la Princess Kate. (Do I give away my age if say Princess Diana?) I told my husband he could keep me on travel standby, and I immediately made sure my passport was renewed.

Over the next few years, I’d attend the New York jewelry shows, which are pretty much like davening Minchah at the Sloatsberg Rest Area on visiting day. I was in my comfort zone. There were plenty of frum people there, a choice of languages in which to negotiate, and hot kosher food readily available.

While I enjoyed the sight of beautiful jewelry, I also learned many things. I saw how bracelets should be well linked, discovered how to choose lustrous pearls, and even learned how to measure stones by sight, without placing them on a scale (don’t tell me I’m not a pro). I also learned that shows can be pretty tiring, but as long as I had flat shoes and a full stomach, I could put in an eight-hour day. It helped knowing that all those Midtown restaurants were waiting at the end of that day.

But then an Indian work colleague of my husband’s suggested that he sell goods at the Hong Kong Jewellery (note the British spelling) and Gem Fair. This takes place twice a year (there’s a smaller third one), and has two venues, one for diamonds and pearls, and one for gems and jewelry. My husband considered the options and possibilities and decided that 1) he’d send his goods to exhibit, and 2) he wasn’t going to attend.

He did seriously debate flying from Tel Aviv to Amman, from there to Bahrain, from there to Mumbai, on to Bangkok, and finally Hong Kong. With no flight longer than four to five hours, his phobia of flying would be kept in check. But when he tried to convince me to fly that route with him, I snorted and rolled my eyes. The only alternative to him sending goods but not attending in person was… sending yours truly to the grown-ups’ show.

After reading up about this beautiful city and talking to a good friend who used to live there, I was really excited to go. “You’re going on business,” my husband would remind me, as he looked over my shoulder and saw me scanning Trip Advisor recommendations.

“Sure, of course,” I mumbled, bookmarking the page listing Top Ten Hong Kong Markets.

Eventually, I decided to compromise. I committed to the full show schedule, but instead of coming right back home to Israel, I earmarked an extra day for myself for sightseeing.

As the plane circled Hong Kong just before landing, I kept pinching myself. From the dinky little plane window, I saw a postcard-perfect view: skyscrapers rising through the smog, dense jungles around the islands, the famous harbor. This was Hong Kong, and I was really there. I practiced arranging my features into something that I hoped passed for blasé, hoping nobody would see through my insecurities.  

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 587)