Murphy, You're Surrounded!

The bathroom of our first flat Coming from Canada, I'm not missing Winter one bit.

But life in a shoebox is a tradeoff; I'm learning to shoehorn my butt into 225 square feet, and I've bonked every conceivable body part on something in this flat.

I'm in a city of almost seven million little people, where only two per cent of the population is non-Chinese. That's roughly 140,000 bodies, which makes me a visible minority. I feel like a character in a gangster film: "Murphy, you're surrounded! Come out with your hands up!"

"Murphy, you're surrounded! Come out with your hands up!"

As is the case in a city where so many bodies are packed into a small area, rude behaviour is common. The air in some places is full of diesel fumes from buses, trucks, taxis and cars; I have to hold a tissue over my face to breathe. Many people have, at best, a nodding acquaintance with the concept of societal cleanliness. Don't need that wrapper? Throw it on the ground! Go ahead and spit on the sidewalk too if you feel like it!

The cockroaches and the rats aren't too bad. I've only seen one rat so far, and he was about the size of a large hamster. It was at a bus station, high-tailing to safer ground so he wouldn't get flattened by a double-decker bus.

· ƒ ·

But I'm not griping; these are just observations.

Hong Kong has a lot of great things to offer: efficient, clean public transportation; great food and shopping; and tons of scenic spots.

Lest you believe everyone is boorish, not so. Hong Kong has plenty of nice, friendly people who enjoy it when a gwai lo (that would be me) speaks in Cantonese. And as most people reach the top of my chest, I can, to quote The Who, see for miles and miles.

"At least Hong Kongers don't shoot each other at the drop of a hat."

No need to feel sorry for me. If I lived in L.A. or New York, I'd get the same thing: rubbish, roaches, rats, and rudeness. At least Hong Kongers don't shoot each other at the drop of a hat. Nope, they use meat cleavers instead.

So I have to take the good with the bad; that's the way it is.

But overall, I like it.

October, 1998

Next Tale: You Pick My Pocket, You Lose An Arm

All Tales: Index