Thursday, August 26, 2004


I noticed a sign yesterday in the lift lobby of D-block in Chungking Mansions:

'Since the usage of this lifts is over 42 years old the operations are mechanical and not electronic. Management desires to upgrade the quality of resident life and will make improvements to Chungking Mansion lifts beginning in D-block...'

About time! Chungking Mansions must be the only place in Hong Kong where it's not uncommon to queue for up to ten minutes for a lift. Also, the lifts only stop to pick up passengers on the way down, very frustrating for those of us who have a reason to travel between different floors.

Like the lifts in Chungking, I also had a major overhaul this week when I shaved my head on Tuesday. I was very pleased with the reaction at work, a confirmation of my theory that African and Chinese people are much better at giving compliments than westerners:
- 'Mr Joe, you look like an African now' (yes, a very strange one! a Nigerian friend once told me that they call albinos 'unfortunate Europeans')
- 'Mr Joe, you look like a young boy' (very welcome after last week's comment on my age!)
- 'Mr Joe, you look very smart' ('smart' is nearly only used for looks in many varieties of English)

The one disadvantage of my new look is that the pawpaws of Temple St no longer recongnise me and are seeing me as potential client material again. It took me a while to figure out why I was getting a lot more waving hands, inviting looks, 'ho dai'(very big) and 'maaih la wei'(come and buy) than usual...

1 comment:

S said...

I hope this reaches you. I am doing a survey on people's perceptions of Chungking Mansions. Could you please take the survey at