Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Evil Winfrey

The internet makes me laugh and cry. Sometimes at the same time. Mostly it reminds me to thank God for not making me American...

"I absolutely think that Oprah Winfrey is one of the most effective forces propagating evil in our media today. Oprah comes off as this sharp, educated, caring and enlightened personality and that is why she connects with so many people. She has all the appearances of being good, but that is why she is so very dangerous. Leslie and I have compared her to what we believe the Anti-Christ will be like: smooth, seductive and seemingly good. After all, who would follow someone overtly evil?"


The ancient lifts in Chungking have earned their own notoriety, independent of the rest of the building. Fortunately, they are slowly being replaced and blocks A to D now have one new lift and one old one. Block E, my block, is still languishing in the back corner of Chungking, waiting to be included in the upgrade.

Everyone in Chungking knows that the weight sensors are situated in the middle of the lift floor. Seven average sized people can fit into the E-block lifts but only if they all stand against the walls. If you step into the centre and set off the overload buzzer you may face considerable lift-rage from your co-passengers.

I know that I've written about the Chungking lifts several times. The reason is that they are such a big part of my life in Hong Kong. I spend a considerable part of each day waiting for the lift and travelling up and down between the ground and sixteenth floor. The lifts also provide many 'only in Chungking' moments:

(Indian man steps into lift, overload buzzer sounds)
African man: Aiyaa! You've got fatter! I can see your stomach is much bigger.
(Indian man adjusts footing and buzzer silences)
Indian man: Yes, now harder getting in lift.
African man: You live on 14/F?
Indian man: Yes
African man: Together with who?
Indian man: Before with friends only, now my wife also coming.
African man: Oh! Wife cooking for you! That's why you get fatter!
(all passengers erupt in laughter)

(cool photo below which I found with google)

Friday, January 21, 2005

The visits begin

The first bit of DSD's 2 part trip to Hong Kong lasted from lunchtime Saturday to lunchtime Sunday. Despite the short time, we managed to cram a lot of activities in.

The cabaret show at the Fringe club was very entertaining. It was about a Chinese Australian guy and his blog. At one point, he was talking about wacky HK names and he mentioned that he had heard of someone called 'Because'. I'm sure he got that from my blog! How many Becauses can there be?

Speaking of HK names, I'm having a difficulty lately sorting out my Teddies and Terries. There are one of each at work right now and I consistently call each one the wrong name. I've also got another one of each in my mobile phone address book and I've mistakenly called the Terry in my mobile phone several times when trying to find out why my colleague is late to work again.

After DSD flew off to Beijing I gave a call to my grandparents' friends. They are staying at the Intercontinental Hotel and invited me to eat with them there on Tuesday. The seafood restaurant at the Intercontinental was very classy and incredibly expensive. They must have noted my shocked state while I perused the menu because one of them said, 'Don't look at the numbers, just look at the words'.

Anyway, we had a fantastic time. I was very interested to learn that the husband had spent a decade living in Belgian Congo about fifty years ago. He explained to me that he had the choice of living in Abyssinia or Belgian Congo. It took me a while to figure out that Abyssinia meant present day Ethiopia.

We talked for a long time about Congo before shifting to South America where the couple have taken many holidays. If anyone is going to Peru, their number one recommendation is going to the place where someone dressed as a monk dives 40 feet into the sea from a cliff.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


As of today, my social life will blossom. Mostly thanks to an influx of imported friends.

DSD arrives from Singapore today en route to Beijing. She'll be leaving tomorrow and back again for next weekend. Three of us are even out to a cabaret show at the Fringe Club tonight!

By the time that DSD gets back next week one of my work colleagues will have started her bellydancing show at a restaurant in Central. Woohoo!

Friends of my grandparents also arrive today from Australia. They're staying at the Intercontinental for a week and we'll probably be out to do something touristy or at least go for dinner sometime during the week. If they like Indian food then I'm keen to go to a flashy restaurant in TST that has live music at nights. From what I've heard of them so far, I don't think Chungking is an option!

Chungking will be an option for dinner with Pip who arrives tomorrow for a six day holiday before moving to Cambodia. Since she left Hong Kong, our favourite restaurant 'The Khyber Mess Club' has gone down hill. I hope I get to a chance to show her my new favourite: 'Wakas Pakistani Mess Club'.

Also this week, Bee will arrive back in Hong Kong from the USA. And not just for a holiday either! Yay! I can't wait to run wild around Mong Kok again, just like the old days.

Next week on Wednesday my school friend Jen will fly in from Hainan Island on her way to Taiwan (and then back to work teaching German in Shanghai). Three days will barely be enough for all the reminiscing, not to mention catching up on years of gossip! On top of that, I'm curious to see if we still have similar taste in books, tv shows and everything else that matters!

And then mum gets here at the start of Feb. There are a lot of people already getting excited about her trip including clients from work and Daisy. I'll have a few days off over Chinese New Year and I'm really looking forward to enjoying the festivities.

And as if that's not enough, I'm planning a celebratory meal or two in the next few days. Two of our clients were accepted as refugees yesterday. Yippee! Both of them called me as soon as they got their news - I was very honoured.

Lucky I've started using a diary!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


The restaurant where I usually eat lunch can get very crowded. It's not unusual for seperate parties to be squeezed on to the same table - this doesn't raise eyebrows at all in Hong Kong.

I usually go for lunch after 2pm so that I can avoid the the lunch hour rush. At that time I can eat my lunch and read for a while without worrying that I'm keeping someone else from getting a seat.

When I went for lunch today the restaurant was still recovering from lunchtime busyness. I was lucky that a group of four vacated a table just as I arrived. I sat down, ordered wonton noodle soup and opened up 'Sense and Sensibility'.

After I'd been sitting for just a minute, a couple of young women came in for lunch. The waitress gestured them towards my table but they hesitated and looked uncomfortable. Finally, they moved towards another table with less space.

The waitress saw the place they were intending to sit and told them that there would not be enough room. She told them again to sit at my four person table and they eventually obeyed.

I was too wrapped up in the revelation of Lucy's engagement to Edward Ferrars to feel insulted. After a couple more minutes my food arrived and I continued to read as I ate.

Just as I bit into my first wonton, two seats became available at the next table. In a flash the two women transported themselves along with their bags, drinks, chopsticks, spoons and napkins. I noted that the table they moved to had two prior occupants. They actually had more space on my table than they did on the new one.

I continued eating and another couple were placed on my table. I think that they were a mother and son. They lasted only two minutes before a place became available at another table and they dashed across the restaurant.

When things like this happen in Hong Kong I usually console myself that it's not racism. Actually, if racism effects me in Hong Kong then it's probably only when I get better treatment for being white.

Instead, I think it's just the reaction of people who are afraid of those who are different to themselves. In either case, it helps me empathise with others, such as our clients at work, who do face real discrimination.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Happy Boxing Day

According to the Ethiopian Orthodox calender it was Christmas day yesterday.

At work today we recieved a fax regarding an application we recently made for some project-based government funding. The fax was a list of all the projects which have approved for funding and they all have very impressive sounding names, reflective of the eagerness of the different NGO's to prove that their projects met the criteria for assistance.

To qualify this funding you had to claim that you would not only help the disadvantaged but also that you would help the disadvantaged to become independent helpers of other disadvantaged. ra ra ra. Here are a sample of my favourites:

- Helping others - Self Growing Project (homeless and ordinary volunteers, empowering the homeless to be helpers)
- Project to promote Family Cohesion and a More Colourful Family Life
- Collaborating People in Tsuen Wan Rural Areas (connect unemployed and needy families with resources through mutual help networks and tripartite partnerships (WOW!)
- Care-and-Comfort Angel Promotion Project
- Play in the Public Park: Play Community Development in Ma On Shan (build communities and neighborhood networks through play)

and some with fantastic names:
- Project RAGE - Responsible Action, Genuine Encounter (link at risk youth with professional mentors to reengage them socially and in work)
- ROOT - Ramify Our Outward Teens (assist social and economic inclusion of at risk youth through community networks and collaboration)
- Establish Tuen Mun with Chinese Intelligence (reorientate a single-parent support service into a local employment and mutual help initiative)

Thursday, January 06, 2005


I've felt very appreciated since returning from Sydney. Clients at work have acted as though I'd been away from Hong Kong for two years rather than two weeks. Even the old lady who sells papaya in the market said she'd missed me!

I went to pay my rent yesterday and Ellen, my estate agent, also welcomed me back to Hong Kong. Since she was feeling so friendly I inquired about my lease which will finish at the end of this month. I told her that I didn't want to sign another year long contract and she said that I can leave anytime now as long as I give one month notice. The other good news is that the rent will stay the same - I had been a little worried by the talk of HK rent prices increasing lately.

I've also had a lot of comments about the couple of kilos that I put on in Australia. Even those who don't have so much English do a hand to mouth motion and say something like "Mummy house eating".

Walking out of Ellen's office I ran into her daughter Jessie in front of Daisy's store. Jessie said to Daisy that I have put on a lot of weight in Australia. Daisy disagreed but Jessie argued 'I should know because I've seen him at the swimming pool. He used to be so thin'. I didn't understand the next thing that she said but then Jessie pointed to my back and I heard the word 'Aliens' in English. Eww!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I'm back at work after a very relaxing two weeks in Australia. I will blog soon about the holiday but for now here is a taste of what I've come back to. The following was one of the 92 emails in my inbox this morning:

"Dear Joe

Just received your Purchase Request Form regarding buying toner for your laser printer Xerox 3210.
However, the reason for purchase you put is “Printer”.
I think you should put a more explainable reason for the next time.
If you buy the toner, I think why, it should be “Run out of ink”.