Tag Archives: Slice of Life

Hong Kong Streets

We were walking on a busy Hong Kong street. The road was narrow. Cars were zipping past. People were jostling by, lots of them. At the crosswalk, people were waiting, restrained by the glowing red character, which, although I didn’t know the precise meaning, clearly meant, ‘don’t walk’. The light changed. GREEN. GO. The gates opened. The dam broke. The race began. People rushed across the busy street as if their lives depended on it. As if, to finish last in this race would embarrass their team, let down their nation, disappoint their parents, end their lives. Literally.

The clock was ticking. Seconds remained.

I stepped into the street. A hand seized my arm, held my shoulder.

“WAIT.” My friend, a Hong Kong native, pulled me back onto the sidewalk. “Not enough time,” he said.

We could make it, I thought.

Voooommm. A Black BMW M6 roared past, inches from where my toes had just been.

“THERE’S STILL TIME ON THE CLOCK,” I shouted, thinking that made a difference.

“In Hong Kong, the cars do not stop,” my friend said.  “You must pay attention.”

We turned down a narrow side street. Cars were not allowed. People bustled, shoulder to shoulder, grocery sack to grocery sack, carving out space amidst the shops, the pungent smells, the noise. The crowd was moving, faster in the middle, slower on the sides where the shouts were loudest.

Dried fish. Wet fish. Hanging meat. Cloth. Shoes. T-shirts. DVDs. Electronics. Hand bags–with designer labels–REALLY.

My friend held my camera so I could shop. I selected a present for my wife. My friend did the negotiating–back and forth.  The shopkeeper spoke in loud, harsh tones. He seemed to be angry. Then, he smiled and bowed. They exchanged money–my money–and I was given a beautiful silk scarf. I had no idea how much it cost. Walking away, I checked my currency conversion ap.

“Great deal, ” I said, stepping off the curb. “My wife will love it.”

My friend grabbed my arm and pulled me back onto the sidewalk.  A car zipped past as I looked up from my iPhone.

“Here,” he said, handing me back my camera. “you should take more pictures.”

Hong Kong Slice of Life

When I saw the Reggae Kung Fu poster, I asked my friend, a native of Hong Kong, if Jackie Chan was in town. I meant it as a joke. He didn’t laugh. He took me seriously.

“No. Unfortunately, Jackie Chan is not in town.” He said it as if he knew, at all times, where Jackie Chan actually was. And, he seemed disappointed he could not take me to meet Jackie Chan. He didn’t mention any Reggae artists.

Humor, especially with sarcasm, doesn’t translate well, mine, or his. My friend told me how much he loves Jackie Chan, how much the people of Hong Kong love Jackie Chan. But, he said, the movies made in Hong Kong look different than the movies made in the US.

“What’s the difference,” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “They’re just different.”

He tried to show me some examples. Grittier, dirtier, darker, faster, more martial arts. “American movies make Hong Kong look…cleaner.”

“Show me your Hong Kong.”

He tried to. I think. The sites we filmed and photographed were carefully selected. I spent nearly a week in Hong Kong, this time, and I still don’t think I’ve seen the city, the ‘real’ city. After all, I couldn’t give a one sentence description. Big, tall, vibrant, energizing, fast paced, harried, smelly, busy, clean, dirty… I could use a dictionary and never run out of adjectives to describe Hong Kong. It is all of those things, and more. So, bear with me. I photographed the things I could see. Slice of Life? I hope so…