11 November, 2011

The HongKong Experience - Part 1

(Pic courtesy : apessimistisneverdisappointed.com via Google)

For those of you who don’t know HongKong firsthand, HongKong is Asia’s World Class City – or some such thing. For those of you who do know HongKong firsthand, HongKong is still Asia’s World Class City – indeed !! Now, now – don’t get me wrong here. Don’t all of us have our very own quirks. Yes, we do. I do, too. I vaguely remember blogging about mine too. But then again, the quirks of the local HongKongese (that word does not exist but it sure has a nice ring to it) are simply unbelievable, rather bizarre, at times.

Of late, I’ve been commuting by bus to and from work and I’ve been subjected to an awful load of the unique behavioural tendencies that the HongKongese are capable of exhibiting rather unabashedly.

The most common sound effect that one is subjected to, just about everywhere in HK, is one of those loud, ear splitting belches. While burping is a rather controlled exercise in other cultures, the people here seem to view burping as some sort of a pecking order contest. The louder and grosser the burp, the higher up on the totem pole that individual is deemed to be. Just cross your fingers and hope you’re not sitting (or standing) next to one of those persistent burpers or your olfactory senses would go bonkers. They’d either go berserk trying to process the smells of all the half digested breakfast or lunch (depending on the time of the day) wafting towards their unfortunate nostrils or, at the other extreme, their olfactory senses would simply shut down – steadfastedly refusing to process any of the smells inhaled. Such is the power of those killer burps !! Now I know why so many of the local HongKongese choose to wear facemasks, at the first given opportunity.

The other sound effect that one is subjected to – trust me – you don’t even want to know !! It is rather hazardous to even talk about it (or in this case, type about it) !! Even more dangerous than the noisy kind, is the silent kind. Absolute killer, that one !! Not to mention the fact that most of the public transport is airconditioned. The windows shut, there is no room for the air to escape and those killer fumes just travel all the way down the train or the bus. Oh !! Sheer joy compounded !!

Remember the Tokyo subway Sarin gas attack. Well, the Japanese needed the Aum Shinrikyo to accomplish that. We just need our very own HongKongese who seem to think nothing of dropping human gas bombs at split second intervals. You want chemical warfare, send across a human gas bomb from HK. You’ll find plenty of them on the public transport here !!!

Ever seen people clipping their fingernails on public transport ? If your answer to that question is a horrified “NO !!” , it is about time you took a trip to Asia’s World City. On just about any form of public transport, you’re quite likely to come across atleast a couple of HongKongese hellbent on leaving their DNA samples all over the floor of the bus or the MTR. If it is indeed your lucky day, you’d be sitting across the aisle and you’d see someone slowly taking their feet out of their shoes. As your nostrils are once again bombarded by the steamy odors of smelly socks and as you stare, totally paralysed and horror stricken, you will see a pair of feet emerge from those socks. By this time, your sense of smell would be dead, your mouth would be hanging open (well – you have to breathe, don’t you ??) and your body would be going into a mini seizure of sorts – well, the kind you see when you take a fish out of water. In the midst of all these reactions (which nobody cares about, really), you’d find that a nailclipper has magically appeared and the concerned person with the dinosaur-like toenails is busy leaving their nail shavings on the floor of the bus or the MTR like those little pixie fairies sprinkling magic dust rather liberally when they are so in love with this world of ours.

Come winter and you face the prospect of a 45 odd minute journey (if you’re lucky it won’t be more than that – the pixie fairy will ensure that you faint well before that) standing or sitting right next to a person who’s merrily skipped the teeth brushing ritual that is so common amongst most of the human populace on this planet that we call Earth. And if you’re really really lucky and your good Karma is pouring on you in truckloads that morning, those very people would be taking a nap with their mouths wide open. Now, for those of you who have not been fortunate enough to travel in public transport in HK, let me assure you that it is pretty much like being in a strait jacket. You are guaranteed to feel like a sardine in a can with a whole load of other sardines – all packed so tight that you have no choice but to inhale the air which has just been exhaled by your fellow passenger (who, if I may remind you, might not have brushed his/her teeth that morning). Like I said before, that’s your good Karma pouring its goodwill by the buckets !! Let’s not go on to the Bad Karma bit – not right now. That’ll be a bit too much to stomach !!

Oh well !! Did I not mention at the beginning of the post that HK is Asia’s World City !! The smells of a world class city – you’ll find them all here, in HK, for sure !! Live here for a while and your olfactory senses and your lungs could well start serving you with a lawsuit for assault.

But then again, this is a city that grows on you. It kind of creeps up on you. One may crib, moan and bitch about all these quirks in the HongKongese (like I’m doing, right now), but the pros definitely seem to outweigh the cons.

These quirks do bring about a short lived sense of irritation and annoyance but over a period of time, some say, no one really cares. Small correction - I, for one, still do.

Just the other day someone said "When you've been living here for many years, you just have to learn to live with it".

Well, apparently, where such things are concerned, I still haven't !!!

P.S : Watch this space for more quirks about HongKong and its people and believe me when I say - There's plenty more to come !!

5 voice(s) said so:

Sumana said...

LOL we will have to put on nose plugs with oxygen tubes through it (if anything like that exists), when we actually visit HK. Wonderful description and man how can you learn to live with it?? I am with you on this, I cannot, may be we would travel with nose closed for most of the time. And this in Asia's world class city, cannot believe.

Random Thoughts said...

You have missed out one. More visible in the East Rail (ex KCR line) line.

Men using tweezers to pull out their mustache and beard. They are not well endowed in that area but why buy expensive Gillette razors when a tweezer will do? It will keep you occupied and also stop one from falling asleep thus risking ones bag being stolen as it often happen on that line frequented by Mainlanders (people from China). Yes, HK is part of China but, more like a satellite!

Neera said...

You are so funny :) But this was quite an eye opener!

ashok said...

Love the word 'HongKongese'! :)

Glenn, kenixfan said...

I found your site because I wanted to see who linked to me -- that's my pic from Apessimistisneverdisappointed.com. Glad you used it and gave me credit and a link!

I am enjoying your HK blog posts. I don't see how you have survived for so many years here. Your posts on the idiosyncrasies of these local people are very funny and a bit too polite. I fear that I can't even honestly blog about HK anymore for fear of offending people I know here. I can't wait to leave and get myself and my wife out of this city. Let's just leave it at that for now.