Friday, April 02, 2004


One of my worst habits in Hong Kong is feigning complete ignorance of all languages other than English in order to eavesdrop. There's nothing more exciting than hearing people talk about you when they think you can't understand.

I've had some fantastic opportunities for this lately. The lifts in Chungking (I spend a lot of time in them cos they're really slow) are great for hearing gossip. I'm also having fun with the Cantonese reading and writing class at work on Tuesday nights. They're all South Asian and so far they have no idea that I can understand when they speak with each other.

But my favourite place for eavesdropping is in the hair salon. The hairdressers don't speak much English but we usually use 'hairdresser's sign language' to show that I want my hair shorter on the sides and a couple of centimetres long on top.

Yesterday, however, justice was dealt to me. I sat down in the chair and we did the usual gesturing. My white haired, big bellied hair dresser held his cigarette with his lips and picked up the clippers. He then made a swoop of my head on a number three setting. Before I could say anything it was too late and I ended up with a shaved head and a fringe!

I got rid of the fringe myself with scissors later but I'm not sure how the bosses will react to the new look. I hope they are better than the other hairdresser who told mine, 'You idiot! now he'll have to wear a hat everywhere!'.
to which my hairdresser replied 'No, God knows that white people look good without any hair'.