Peter was one of the first people I got to know when I came to the University almost 25 years ago. He was friendly and warm, with an exuberant boyish enthusiasm; in those important respects, he did not change in all the time I knew him. He was a distinctive figure both physically (his walk was a waddle, his voice could be heard a mile off) and intellectually, for he had a conception of the role of an academic that would nowadays be considered eccentric. In Peter's view, the primary duty of a University teacher is intellectual self-enrichment. He saw the function of a University as providing a forum for intelligent people to congregate, learn from each other, to argue, and to transmit to students the love of this type of engagement. He valued conversation, and was affectionately known, in some quarters as 'Peter Deluge', the surname deriving not principally from the rapid flow of words but rather from the saliva that was sprayed in their forceful, excited enunciation. He published little, but talked a great deal. Some colleagues might regard that modus vivendi as reprehensible, but it is useful to contemplate what our, or any, university would be like if this style of conduct were widespread. The institution, to be sure, would lose some prestige, where this is measured in terms of the volume of its publications — but can we honestly say that the bulk of those publications convey illuminating ideas and fascinating new knowledge or is it the case that they are merely testimony to the success of our masters in forcing us to jump through meaningless hoops? Peter was of the view that, if one had truly great thoughts then their publication was worthwhile; if not, then better to save the trees. In his conception, the role of teacher is to contribute to generating an atmosphere in which students develop a love of learning, the ability to discriminate the truly awesome from the deadly boresome and an eagerness to actively participate in a thriving intellectual community. It is not obvious to me that a university informed by those ideals is necessarily inferior to one in which teachers are so pressured into writing books and articles that they have little time for pastoral care of the young, or even for conversation with each other.

I shall remember Peter for his kindness, for his directness and complete absence of pretension. He would speak to you earnestly about serious matters of history that seemed to him important, but he also had no inhibitions about talking with disarmingly undisguised pride of his wife Jenny, or of the pleasure of reading ancient myths to Louis when he (I use the pronoun with deliberate ambiguity) was a small child.

Laurence Goldstein (Department of Philosophy)

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One-time countryman, colleague, friend.


Peter loved life and lived it well. Perhaps my most abiding memory is of
his conversation : whimsical, fluent, voluble even, the words occasionally
tripping over each other in their enthusiastic ebullition. Eyes flashing.
Hands gesturing. Subject? Anything under the sun but especially his
abiding loves of modern European history and politics. 'Did you know that
Hitler...? And of course Stalin....'

Too young to have been directly in earlier nastinesses, he was never the
less well acquainted with the travails of his family's country of origin -
Hungary. He was totally enthralled and in consequence was enthralling, for
he was nothing if not a communicator. His use of film to enliven his
teaching and to give it point was a popular innovation - one picked up by
colleagues. He was deeply knowledgeable about his field, clearly excited
by people who had lived through the times and places that interested him.
He had an abiding interest in the Left, on which side of the political
spectrum he firmly placed himself. Though idealistic he was realist enough
to realize that order and propriety are virtues in themselves, that the
democratic process can lead to chaos.

Great scholar? No. Great teacher? Yes. Thoroughly benign. Completely
human.

Adieu, mon cher.

Ron Hill

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Soaring cobblestones

however long lasts the struggle

yet another spring

Denis Meyer

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We have known Peter since our arrival in Hong Kong in 1976 - meeting
through our mutual friends, Mike and Jenny Summers, who left Hong Kong in 1984.

I shall always remember Peter in particular though for our chats in the Reading Room of the SCR since I came to work at HKU in 1995. We often seemed to be there at the same time for our mid-morning coffee and the focus of our conversations would usually be concerns about our respective children. Peter was one of the few people I have come across who could show genuine empathy and one of very few men willing to discuss such matters and question whether he was doing the right thing. I think it was comforting for both of us to learn as the years went by that we had managed to develop good relationships with our children.

Esther Morris

Peter was a totally genuine and sincere person who cared deeply about others.

Paul Morris

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Peter and I had known each other since he joined the Department of History, University of Hong Kong, more than 26 years ago. When I look back I am amazed as to how we could get on so well all these years. He and I were different almost in everything. Yet we were totally comfortable about our differences. We were not just colleagues, we were good friends.

I have great respect for Peter also because of his tremendous devotion to teaching and to his students. He was so happy every time he felt he had given a good lecture or he had a good discussion with the students. He had the students close to his heart even at the very end. The last thing he asked me to do shortly before he passed away was something to help an old student of his.

I shall miss him very much.

Chan Lau Kit Ching

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Peter Deli: cinema unverite

I didn't send in my booking request for the Hong Kong International Film
Festival this year. It's the first time I've missed it in 20 years. And it's all because of Peter Deli. Peter was my annual alarm clock, my wake-up call for the onslaught of celluloid dreams that descends on Hong Kong every Easter.

For almost twenty years, there hasn't been a day in January when I've been able to sneak quietly into the Senior Common Room for my daily imbibement of fermented grapes without that familiar wave of an arm beckoning me - no, summonsing me - to give the inside info on some obscure Lithuanian film that Peter had instinctively sniffed out. He was a master at this; a natural-born movie buff who flew by the seat of his pants. And for some reason or other he had elevated me to the position of co-pilot in this mad flight of escapism.

At one time it was justified. In 1982 I had taken a year off from teaching to help organize the Hong Kong International Film Festival. I quickly became a self-styled expert in esoteric films from every corner of the world that no-one in Hong Kong had ever heard of. Except for Peter. He was delighted by the fact that I could talk about film directors whose names didn't contain a single vowel. The more removed they were from mainstream cinema, the better he liked them. And if they hinted at revolution, or the downfall of some long established - and therefore, in Peter's eyes, corrupt - regime, they would immediately be added to his viewing list.

I was able to satisfy Peter's insatiable thirst for hidden gems of cinema because at that time, and for many years later, I had the privilege of attending previews of the films before they were screened to the public.

Peter made more use of that privilege than I did. From some deep pocket he would unfold a dog-eared festival catalogue and insist I go through it with him, using my vast knowledge to help him select the films he should see, almost as if were a duty rather than a pleasure.

What he didn't know was that my vast knowledge slowly dwindled over the years. I was not as diligent as I should have been in keeping up with the latest Tarkovsky, the new Skolimovski or, indeed, any of the other -ovski's. I could no longer speak with authority on such things. Naturally, my pride would not allow me to confess this to Peter. And so we continued with the yearly ritual like brothers-in-arms on the cinematic battlefront of the avant garde. It was - at least on my part, I must confess - a case of cinema un-verite.

I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that Peter had already twigged to my disgraceful lack of knowledge in this cultural pursuit which was so important to him. But, true gentleman that he was, he never let on either. We were like two old men who, even though they may have long forgotten the intricate strategies of play, still meet periodically to enjoy a game of chess - or at least to go through the motions of it.

Now, of course, there will be no more game to play. I have lost my partner in crime and I will miss him greatly.

However, I find some solace in the thought that wherever Peter is I am sure he will sniff out a film festival that he can sneak into and enjoy. The only difference is that this time he will have the advantage over me in getting to preview it first. Naturally, I will at some later date make as much use of that privilege as he did with mine.

So, take notes Peter and be prepared to give good advice.

Terry Boyce
Lantau Island
February 13, 2001

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In memory of a dear friend, a dedicated Europeanist and committee member,
Mr. Peter Deli, we miss you.

Executive Committee of the Hong Kong & Macau Association for European Studies

Prof. Werner Meissner (president)
Dr. Maria do Ceu Esteves (vice president)
Mr. Terence Yeung (secretary)
Mr. Regis Kawecki (treasurer)
Prof. Brian Bridges
Dr. Gregory James
Dr. Joseph A. Sy-Changco
Dr. Beatrice Cabau-Lampa
Mr. Ulrich Wannagat

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At Faculty Board meetings, Peter was an outspoken advocate of the
Western canon of literature and the high cultural values they encode. In Areopagitca, Milton fiercely maintained that "he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God as it were, in the eye.” Peter was always ready to defend the importance of good books in the Faculty of Arts.

Maureen Sabine

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I knew from the moment I met Peter Deli that we were going to get on well
with each other. Although we were both Australians (at least by passport)
and had both been through Sydney University and Oxbridge, we actually came
from completely different backgrounds, his urban and mine rural, and had
quite divergent views on how the world and its institutions worked. But we
managed to find common ground on a number of issues and I very quickly
realised that Peter was quintessentially an intellectual of the old school
and an important ally. We talked for hours about everything under the sun,
ranging from departmental and university gossip to the meaning of life. He
seemed to have a never-ending fund of anecdotes, many of them told against
himself, and even if one did have to listen to them more than once they
were always amusing. I loved our evenings spent in the Senior Common Room
discussing the burning questions of the moment. At the professional level
I was amazed and refreshed by his devotion to his students. He could be
short-tempered and irritable with his colleagues at times but he was always
encouraging to undergraduates. He agonised over marking their essays and
examination scripts, always wanting to give a promising student the benefit
of the doubt while still insisting on the highest standards of critical
analysis. He taught me a lot about the importance of the personal relationship in teaching. In time Peter became my closest friend at the University and my days always seemed strangely empty when Peter was away from the office or on leave. I am now feeling that emptiness very keenly.
It seems impossible that Peter will no longer come bustling into my office
wielding a disordered wadge of lecture notes at the conclusion of some
particularly exhilarating performance at the lecturn. Giving a good lecture was an inebriating experience for him and the effect was often strong enough to drive out the demons which periodically visited him over the last few years. This week I am giving his lectures on Homer and Herodotus in the first-year European Civilization course and no matter what I do I cannot seem to make them live for the students in the same way that Peter did. How did he do it? It was distressing for us all to watch Peter's health deteriorate over the last six months, particularly knowing how much he hated the hospital and the manifold indignities of his condition. But in the end he found peace in his solitude and I think that is all that any of us can ask for. I will miss him, but I will remember
him. And that is what he really wanted from us all, simply to remember.

Dr Peter Cunich
Department of History
University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong

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It's sad to think about the loss of a great colleague and friend. Peter's
gone, but I know he wouldn't have approved of our feeling down. Yes, Peter.
We shouldn't feel sad because you'll always be on our minds.

Peter was always jolly, good-humoured and kind. He was always a gentleman.
During those long years of my acquaintance with Peter, I had never seen him
lose his temper. I took him as a model of decency.

If I had asked Peter what he would like to be remembered for, I'm sure he
would have said: "Well, Alfred, I hope I'll be remembered as a good teacher.” Right, Peter?

I remember Peter once invited me to his lecture on Russian intellectual
history. He had such a powerful voice that no student could have gone to
sleep. But I'm sure none of his students would have felt drowsy because his
lecture was so very interesting and inspiring. Peter was at all ease
teaching his favourite subject, fired with a passion to tell his students
all he knew about the Russian intelligentsia. He definitely enjoyed every
single moment in class. So did his students. If one asks students what they
think of Peter, I'm absolutely certain they'll say: "Mr. Deli is a great teacher!”

Peter cared so very much for his students. He wanted them to become not only learned but also educated. He had devoted his entire life to educating his
students, and his achievements are immeasurable. Nothing could have made
Peter happier than to see his students becoming decent human beings. And
nothing could have saddened Peter more than to see a university
degenerating from a centre of education into a vocational training college.
Peter was always proud of being a member of the History Department. Peter,
you can rest assured that the History Department will carry on its great
tradition of dedication to teaching. We will follow your example, and we
will not let you down.

Alfred H.Y.Lin (Department of History, HKU)

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Peter was a friend and colleague over the span of 25 years together at
HKU. A lively historian and fiercely anti-establishment figure, he had an intense interest in, amongst other things, psychoanalysis. This led him to court me into giving an annual Freud lecture in his class on European intellectual history and were it not for this, I would probably never have discovered the depth of his thinking and enthusiasm for the subject. He taught me a lot about the intellectual context of fin-de-siecle Vienna and seemed far more at home in the Austro-Hungarian Empire than post handover Hong Kong. He humored my clumsy attempts to engage him with the past but he was keenly aware of his own difficulties with the present. If he characterized me as an old fashioned liberal humanist, he saw himself as a dinosaur. Yet I will remember him best as a student. In his last year he sat in on a course of lectures of mine on the psychology of personality. Sitting amongst second year undergraduates every week (he never missed a class) he was a model student, taking notes, asking questions, laughing at the weak jokes. While never daring to go near any electronic access to a web page, he avidly read the textbook and asked for copies of all the additional readings. Over lunch in the SCR he would give me excellent feedback and say how much he was enjoying it. He shared my predilection for the depth psychologists and despised what he saw as the more pretentiously scientistic psychometricians. He was intending to sit in on another of my courses this year. I'll miss that warmly critical yet humorous voice that impacted on my view of him as a serious scholar.

Geoff Blowers

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Mr. Peter Deli was a "frequent visitor” to the General Office in the
Department. He used to pop into the General Office with a box of milk and chat with us briefly every morning before he started to work, and these visits had become morning rituals for every one of us in the General Office. Though sometimes he might speak in a loud voice, especially when he needed something done urgently, even then he was always very polite in all his dealings with us.

Mr. Deli was proud of his students, whom he always treated as his treasure in life. Whenever students needed his help he always tried his very best to give it. Over the years he was a referee for a substantial number of the students in the Department. He was always very kind in helping students find the reference materials needed for their studies. We have never heard any students complaining about Peter.

Sometimes, he talked about his family and his son in a very pleasant and relaxed way. Through these casual conversations with him, we all knew that he was a good husband and father with a warm and kind heart. Mr. Deli, though an Australian, could be a very traditional "Chinese” in Hong Kong. He bought gifts for all the staff in the General Office at Chinese New Year and greeted everybody "Kung Hei Fat Choy” with a sweet smile. Despite that, he also followed the western tradition of sending flowers to the secretaries on Secretaries Day.

We will miss Mr. Deli for his greetings on those special days, and every day we will miss his warm smiles.

Amy, Andy, Iris & Michelle
General Office,
Department of History

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Peter is missed and will be missed. Colleagues will never forget his
concerns for the department, for European Studies, and for the university and its respect for the liberal arts. Students will miss his dedication to them and to teaching in general. The door was rarely closed to Peter's office. Peter represented twentieth century Europe at its best at HKU and throughout Hong Kong.
Peter had friends around the world in several continents and in numerous countries, including France, England, Germany, Australia, Russia, and, of course, Hong Kong. His Russian friends and colleagues will miss his search for stronger ties between Hong Kong and Russia, and in particular, HKU and Herzen State University in St. Petersburg.
In all his courses, Russia its past and present was prominently portrayed. His French and German colleagues will miss his promotion of French and German culture at the university. His European friends will miss evenings engaged in lively, lengthy, philosophical and political discussions, to which some good wine gave additional sparkle. His Australian friends will note his recent rediscovery of Australia and the pleasantries of life there.
I will miss our own numerous discussions, often heated and vocal, which made me rethink some of my ideas. I will always be grateful to Peter. We will all miss his voice, his footsteps, his views so prominently advocated throughout the corridors of the history department at HKU and beyond for over twenty years. I cannot imagine he is gone. I don't think any of us can.
I think Peter is now looking down on all us from a smoky Paris like cafe set in 1968 drinking a glass of wine and smiling. While neither of us were especially religious people, he has passed on to a very special place.

Michael Share
Department of History
University of Hong Kong

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Shortly after I heard the sad news of Peter Deli's death, I sat in my
university office where, for sixteen years, Peter had been my next-door
neighbour. For the past six months, his office had been unaccustomedly quiet, but I could still hardly believe that never again would I hear him come bustling in, banging the door, moving about, making phone calls, welcoming his friends,
and teaching his students. Peter's voice carried well, though eventually a
layer of well-filled bookcases became an extra sound barrier between his
office and mine. While I never overheard anything that was not perfectly
innocuous, to protect his privacy I warned him early on that he should
remember his words often came through to me quite distinctly. Even so,
Peter was always a presence next door, almost part of the furniture. More
times than I can remember I have heard him expounding enthusiastically to
students on Marx, Hitler, Stalin, fascism, and European intellectuals, and
fairly often he wandered into my office to bring me up to date on his plans
and activities. He always proclaimed that my crammed office reassured him
that his own untidy premises were by comparison a model of order. His
absence leaves a void in the fabric of my life I still find it difficult to
comprehend.

When I think of Peter, most of all I remember how intensely whatever he was
doing at any given time mattered to him, and his almost childlike
expectation that it mattered just as much to those around him. As a
teacher, this passionate commitment to his own historical interests and
views gave him a contagious enthusiasm, attracting and stimulating some of
our brightest and most enterprising students, including refugees from other
faculties. On occasion, his dedication to his own views perhaps went over
the top. I well remember, a few weeks after I arrived, setting an
examination paper in collaboration with Peter, and gently suggesting to him
that maybe a question which expected students to comment on the "brutal,
militarist, hypocritical, and exploitative” policies of some undesirable
regime went just slightly too far in indicating the answer he preferred.
Even when ill, he inquired of me how particular students who had caught his
attention were faring in coursework and examinations.

Peter's absorption in whatever concerned him at any given moment could be
endearingly funny. I fondly remember a day, within the past year or two,
when I offered to lend him a novel about a young woman in ancient Greece,
whose history I knew was one of his passions. Late that afternoon I took a
minibus home, alighting by the postbox in Sha Wan Drive. As I waited to
cross the road, with a screech of brakes Peter drew up, and exhorted me
several times not to forget to bring the book in for him tomorrow. Waving
cheerily he then drove off, entirely oblivious of the lengthy queue of
minibuses, taxis, and homebound private cars waiting impatiently behind him.

Soon after I arrived Peter invited me out to dinner, when I met Jenny.
Immediately I realized how lucky Peter was, for I decided then, and never
changed my view, that she was the ideal wife for him. Indeed, Peter
himself told me several times how very fortunate he was to have met and
married his wife, a decision he rightly thought a great credit to his
intelligence. I only saw Jenny occasionally, usually at parties or dinner,
but when I did invariably greatly enjoyed her toughminded and energetic
company; the very news that she would be present was enough to look forward to an evening that I otherwise anticipated would be boring or uninviting. She was the rock on whom Peter very touchingly depended.

Peter nonetheless always had a quite unconcealed fondness for attractive
female company, or "pretty ladies”. While Peter Cunich was still a
bachelor, the two Peters and I went en bloc to Hong Kong's annual Oxbridge
boat race dinner. Peter Cunich and I confidently expected Peter to find a
seat in close proximity to some vision of female beauty. Amazed, I noticed
he was in fact sitting next to a lady one could only describe as a
battleaxe. Rolling my eyes, I murmured, "My God, what happened?” to Peter
Cunich, who grinned and said, "Ah, but see what he's got opposite him!” I
looked forthwith, and immediately espied an extremely attractive young
Chinese woman, stylishly attired in a a skintight strapless dress, the
depth of whose cleavage was equalled only by the brevity of her hemline.
Peter spent the evening steadily consuming good food and wine, conversing
volubly, and blissfully admiring the view.

A keen student of humanity, Peter loved to gossip and was ever curious.
Meeting me in the life with a male houseguest of mine, for once he was
struck dumb, leaving me giggling inwardly. Shortly afterwards he dropped by
my office on some minor pretext, which he discussed for twenty minutes
before eventually making a reluctant departure. As I later explained to my
friend, "Peter is longing to know just what my relationship with you is,
but even he doesn't quite have the nerve to boom out, 'Priscilla, is there
something going on between you and that man?" When he was ill I could do
very little for him, but every few days I phoned up for a chat. I quickly
learned that Peter was always very pleased if I could provide some odd
snippets of mildly malicious gossip, and would even request me to find out
this or that bit of information for him. Although I occasionally protested
that I really could not barge in on some friend or colleague with some
particularly outrageous inquiry, more often than not for Peter's
entertainment I craftily managed by indirections to find directions out,
and would report back to a happily chortling Peter. The last time I spoke
to him, just ten or twelve days before he died, he asked about one person
in particular, of whom by sheer luck I had heard something rather
interesting the day before, which to Peter's great delight I promptly
relayed to him.

Almost two years ago, my friend Frank Welsh and I helped Peter to translate
into English various quotations from French newspapers which were included
in an article of his. Peter, who enjoyed Frank's company, was most
grateful — as he always was for any kindness — and, since Frank was only
briefly in Hong Kong, insisted that next time he came through the three of
us, together with Jenny, who he thought would also appreciate Frank, must
go out for a truly slap-up thankyou dinner. I rarely think very much about
the Great Hereafter, usually finding myself pretty busy in the Good Old
Here-and-Now. On one thing, however, I am clear: no way is Peter going to
get out of giving me that free meal! At some time in the future, the four
of us have a date for a reunion in the Great Restaurant in the Sky. It
will have all the stars you could want, the food and wine will be out of
this world, and I'll make sure that Peter catches up on all the gossip he's
missed. Au revoir, dear Peter, and bon voyage!

Priscilla Roberts
Department of History
University of Hong Kong

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I first met Peter over 20 years ago, when I joined HKU as a lecturer in
Western art. Somehow he had heard that the Department of Fine Arts had added a European art component, and so, one day he approached me in the Senior Common Room to talk. I was at first somewhat taken aback by this eager and intense bearded stranger, but soon warmed to Peter and to his obvious passion for the humanities. His fervor for history in all its forms, including intellectual and cultural, made us allies, as did his conviction that the early periods of Western culture mattered. "Why don't we teach about ancient Greece and Rome here?” he would frequently lament. "How can our students understand later developments without these early periods?” And so, he would teach about them anyway, in his other classes, and would ask me to come in with slides, to give his students a taste of early Western art.

While nowadays this bridging of disciplines is common, in those days it was not. Having a colleague in another department who understood the value and importance of art — to many, an unfamiliar and impractical discipline — was a boon indeed.

The other quality about Peter that stands out when I think of him will, I am sure, be repeated by many, and that was his dedication as a teacher. Students mattered to him — it was as simple as that. He conveyed that message time and again, not just on an individual basis, but in committees and Faculty Board meetings. What he said may not always have been what others wanted to hear, but thank goodness that someone had the conviction to get up and say them. He was an idiosyncratic, but key player within the Faculty of Arts, and he will be missed.

Carolyn Muir
Department of Fine Arts

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Dear Mr. Deli,
您是一個正直的人﹐您是一位熱心教育﹐卓著賢勞的好老師。辛勞的園丁﹐您每天一大清早到校﹐默默地耕耘﹐換來了滿園 的桃李﹔滴滴汗水﹐心力過瘁﹐處處體現出您那認真負責﹐孜孜不倦的教學精神。
為了提高學生的學習興趣﹐您播放錄影帶﹔為了讓學生更明白﹐您覆印了教材的重點……作為一個職員﹐理應幫您做自己應 份的事﹐每一次﹐你都會給予贊揚﹐表示您的滿意﹐給我予鼓勵。您那平易近人﹐和藹可親﹐使我的心在工作地方也能感受 到一分溫暖。
今天﹐您離開了我們﹐您可知道﹐多少人是多麼地捨不得您啊﹗但您還是那樣瀟洒地走了﹐我們傷心﹐我們哀痛﹐但我們安 慰﹐因您去了一個更美好的地方﹐滿園桃李會給您帶來永久的芬香﹐溫暖之心將永遠懷念您﹗
愿你安息吧﹗
香港大學歷史系
職員﹕Amy Tsang
2001年2月14日

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Not every aspect of life at HKU was to Peter's taste, but one for which he
did work up some enthusiasm was the annual St. Patrick's Day party hosted by myself (at Do Fook Mansions and Cape Mansions) and Des Robinson at University Hall. He was the one person I would know far in advance was intending to come, for I would never pass him on campus but he would tell me how much he was looking forward to it. I believe he did enjoy himself there, and I like to think that these occasions were partly responsible for the interest he later took in Ireland which in recent years, with Jenny, he explored much more exhaustively than I have ever done, and always sang its praises on his return.

Kevin MacKeown
February 15 2001.

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Culinary Deli-ghts
Peter loved good food and wine. As a seasoned traveller he had enjoyed the cuisines of many countries and he was always keen on reliving part of this experience in one of the numerous restaurants in Hong Kong specialising in Western cooking. We therefore had agreed to watch out for food promotions from European countries in local papers and magazines.

Then came the day when we spotted an advertisement announcing the opening of a new Russian restaurant called "Cossack's Place" in one of the local hotels. Apart from authentic Russian dishes, live music entertainment would also be provided for the prospective diners. Peter immediately recalled an experience he had had with his brother-in-law a few years ago when they attended a Russian food promotion in another hotel: excellent and wholesome food and wonderful Russian music. Needless to say, we almost instantly decided: we will be part of the opening festivities at "Cossack's Place"! We made an early advance booking and the following days were spent building up the excitement for the great evening ahead. Russia was the topic of our conversations in the days leading up to the big event and Peter had numerous stories and anecdotes to tell - be it from books, articles or previous travels.

Finally, the great evening had come. We arrived at the hotel and were excited like children who are about to open their Christmas presents. A friendly hotel employee asked us to take the escalator leading downstairs which would take us right to the doorsteps of "Cossack's Place". When we arrived at the entrance we saw a huge room decorated with heavy red curtains. A small stage had been set up in the centre of this room surrounded by tables and chairs. At the far end we could see the bar which was packed with suit-wearing business-men and women who were vividly enjoying a few Happy Hour drinks. As we looked around the room we noticed there was only one table which had three sets of plates and cutlery on it. All the remaining tables were empty. The attentive reader might have guessed it by now: We had just discovered our table for the evening. Feeling a bit uneasy about the lack of enthusiasm among local diners for Russian cuisine, we sat down and had a closer look at the menu which listed delicacies like Russian Borscht, Siberian Raviolis and other exotic sounding dishes followed by an extensive list of Russian Vodkas. It seemed we had come to the right place after all. Nevertheless, Peter decided it would be a good idea to ask the manager some questions.

First, the authenticity of the food had to be established. Peter asked therefore whether it had been difficult to fly out a chef from Russia. The manager just replied: "Our chef is not from Russia." "So he is from France?" Peter asked. Visibly disturbed by Peter's insistence on establishing the nationality of the chef the manager replied with a simple "No." However, Peter would not let him get away so easily. So he continued his guessing: "Is he from Hong Kong?" At this stage the manager had no way out and he admitted: "Our chef is from England." Almost instantly Peter responded: "Now that's really shocking! What do you think Manfred and Paul?"

The manager was just recovering from this unexpected display of disappointment when Peter wanted to have more information on the type of musical entertainment that was awaiting us. "Was it difficult to bring Russian musicians to H.K?" he asked. "No it wasn't. Actually, the band is from the Philippines", the manager replied. "And how about the singer. Is she from Russia?" Peter inquired. "Well , she's French", the manager responded. As Peter had lived a long time in France and had been in love with French culture, he was quite happy to accept this arrangement. Out of curiosity - and maybe also for reassurance - he asked: "Will she sing in French?" The manager who so far had been giving rather short replies answered: "I am afraid not. She will perform English and American pop songs in English."

So this was our Russian evening: An Australian with Hungarian roots and two Germans coping with Russian food prepared by an English chef and listening to American pop songs performed by a French singer in Hong Kong. Although this strange combination somewhat dampened our enthusiasm for food promotions in those days, it also demonstrates the colourful life Peter has led: A true humanist who enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds and who lived his life to the fullest.

Paul H. Urbanski

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