Monday, April 05, 2004


Lately I've noticed that I've reached a new level of integration with the Temple St community. As I walk to and from home there are regular people I say hi to and a couple more that I will stop and talk with, at least to ask the Hong Kong greeting 'have you eaten yet?'. I've got regular shops that I go to in the market where they recognise me and shove extra fruit or vegetables in the bag when I buy something. Often I'll run into Nepalese friends that come for English or Cantonese classes at work.

All of this got me thinking about the role of wealth in Hong Kong. I realised that my (relative) poverty is one of the reasons that I've got to know so many people. The fact that I live in such close proximity to so many other people makes impossible to go anywhere without having to converse with at least half a dozen of them. At the very least, I can't enter or leave home without talking a couple of minutes to Daisy and saying hi to Nancy.

If my lifestyle was a step up from what it is I would live in a huge apartment block where everyone is anonymous. I would shop in a supermarket where there was little personal interaction with the salespeople. My chances for getting to know people would be limited to saying hi to people I saw regularly in the lift. If I lived at the standard of the majority of foreigners in Hong Kong I would be in some terrace style place on the far side of Hong Kong Island and my domestic helper would do the shopping. I might have a car parked right outside my door, making it unneccessary to even say hi to people as I came or went.

Anyway, I like my lifestyle and it's certainly helping my Cantonese acquisition. Nancy has extended her trip to Thailand. I know that because Daisy taught me how to ask ' Nancy, gei si fan lei?' and I asked the Replacement Mama. The situation was a bit dodgy at first because RM didn't know Nancy's English name and assumed I was after someone else. We sorted it out in the end and I'm waiting to see if she keeps her promise on bringing back a present and lots of photos!