A good friend of mine once observed, there are only three kinds of men who wear flip-flops in Hong Kong: street bums, foreigners and homosexuals.
I suspect the marginalization of this simple, versatile and very comfortable footwear has much to do with language. In Cantonese, as it is the case for Thai, Vietnamese and several other Asian languages I have surveyed, there is no specific word for flip-flops. All open-toe footwear held with a thong between the big toe and the second toe is generically referred to as “slippers” (拖鞋), a word that strongly suggests its rightful place in the privacy of one’s own home. Likewise, the Cantonese word for “vest” (背心) can mean anything from the sleeveless member of a three-piece suit to a tank-top or a cardigan, a term that often causes confusion at clothing stores in the city.
|Don't cross her|
I love flip-flops and I wear them everywhere I go. Over the years, my trust flip-flops have taken me to the backstreets of Harlem, Mount Fuji in Japan, and recently the Great Wall of China._______________________
Read the rest of this essay in HONG KONG State of Mind, available at major bookstores in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.
|HONG KONG State of Mind|