Sunday, April 17, 2005

Late night shopping

Just after writing my last post, the topic of stupid violence came up in a work meeting. We were discussing physical abuse against domestic helpers and a colleague from our domestic helper support centre said that it increased sharply when the economy worsened post-1997. Someone else quoted a statistic that 1/3 of people in HK have some kind of mental illness and they blamed this on the hideous hours that most people work.

Eitherway, the craziness goes on. I went out for dinner on Friday night with Daisy, Joseph (her husband), Deco and Ling. The dinner was shouted by Deco who declared that he was very depressed and wanted to spend all of his money. The reason was that his flatmate had applied for a job at his workplace (Daisy's shop is his second job) and he was worried about his work life and personal life colliding.

The dinner was at Ming Sing, a huge seafood restaurant on Nathan Rd. They were going shutting the shop at 11pm which was convenient becuase I already had another booking for dinner. I had been invited to dinner with one of my old work colleagues who cooked a delicoius French meal. The food was incredible - French onion soup with homemade croutons, salad, salmon and potato mash and then mangosteens which I had brought from the outdoor market.

I arrived at Ming Sing just before twelve. Deco was fairly sozzled and the table was covered with dishes. As stuffed as I was, I had to try a little of each of them. The five of us stayed for a couple more hours in the restaurant, gossiping and making jokes. I asked Deco how he chose his English name and it turned out that his parents gave it to him. They liked it so much, infact, that it is the only name they gave him!

From there the conversation went downhill after I related the incident with the mango thrower in the outdoor market. The 'death to all your family' line inspired the group to teach me a collection of Cantonese insults and swear words. Some of them took some figuring out and I realised that insults and bad language can give a lot of insight into the society in which they exist.

Sometime after 2am we were getting ready to leave when Deco stated his intention to cross the border and make a short trip to Shenzen before going to work at 8:30am. Daisy and Joseph discouraged him and as a result, they agreed to accompany him when he suggested an alternative excursion to Ap Liu St Market in Sham Shui Po. I had been planning on going home to bed but I changed my mind after Daisy called me an 'old cake'.

Ling went home to the New Territories but the rest of us got in a taxi and headed to Ap Liu St. At most times, the market sells used electrical products but late at night, hawkers spread sheets on the street to sell pirated and second hand CD's, VCD's and DVD's. I found a couple of second hand CD's I wanted and some Hindi DVD's as well. I had to argue with Deco who wanted to pay for everything that Daisy, Joseph and I had picked out.

At 3:30am I got in a taxi to go home and I thought about what a weird night it had been. The irony was that I had earlier been glad to get our of a night out in Central with other friends because I didn't want to stay up late. I realised I had developed a new level of respect for Daisy and Joseph who seem to take very good care of all the crazy friends they have.

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