On 4 May 1974, I walked uphill from Nathan Road, through a small path next to Tsimshatsui Kaifong Association. After passing through a small wood, I arrived at the headquarters of the Hong Kong Observatory, housed in an elegant building of the colonial era. I was both excited and worried. Excited because I was about to fulfill my youthful dream since I was in Form 2 to join the Observatory. Worried because on this day of reckoning, I was not sure whether I was sufficiently prepared in spite of the many years of studying.
The excitement was soon over. Like any forecaster, I bumped into "unpredictable weather" and learned quickly that the only way to approach Nature is to be humble. My worries dissipated quickly too. The Observatory was a small department and it felt more like a family than anything else. Going to work was like returning to a home away from home. Life was nice and comfortable.
Happy times went by truly fast. Thirty-five years passed in no time. While many might see the life of a civil servant as boring and uninspiring, from my own perspective it has been a life journey with incessant, great sceneries. I ran into numerous people and happenings on the way, more by chance than by any calculated moves. It was more like responding to circumstances as they emerged. I matured as my experience grew through real-life encounters. Initially my mind was preoccupied with scientific ideas only. Gradually I learnt to appreciate the need to maintain a balance between reason and feeling and to place great importance on love and mutual respect among people.
I am grateful to Providence for giving me this rare opportunity to grow up at the Observatory. I also thank my companions at work on this long journey for their support and tolerance.
"The souvenir for Mr Lam from Observatory colleagues
- the Observatory logo and hundreds of photographs of Observatory staff"
On my departure, I would like to remind my colleagues about how the Observatory is to be run. Science should be the foundation, and service, the objective. Furthermore, the safety of human lives should always be the priority consideration.
Finally, I would like to bid farewell by sharing with my colleagues the following lines (originally a poem in Chinese*):
The infinite heavenly mind is beyond comprehension.
Merging science and humanity we are full of passion.
Observatory work is like ploughing, it's tiring but fulfilling.
Weathering the storms, have faith for the sun's return shining.
Soon I shall descend the hill and return to the citizenry. The sky will cease to be a burden on my back, but will rather be the stage on which Nature displays its wonders. I shall sit back and watch with admiration.
* The original poem in Chinese is: