07 March 2009

Laws of Nature 大自然定律





Back when I was still living in Toronto, my family and I used to spend a lot of time in front of the television set. If nothing good was on, we would flip to the Discovery Channel by default and watch ferocious felines rip apart an innocent zebra or a helpless gazelle. I often wondered why the camera crew would just stand on the sidelines and let the film roll, while savagery unfolded before their eyes. Would a successful rescue upset the order of the jungle and threaten the delicate balance of the entire ecosystem? Perhaps it is best not to interfere.
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One afternoon I found myself shopping at City Super, a high-end grocery store in Hong Kong that sells mostly imported foods...


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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




20 comments:

  1. Pretty sad feeling after reading, this is how our city is. I do believe that it could be improved.

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  2. It can be sad, or downright infuriating. Another vulnerable group is domestic helpers from South East Asian countries. They are often treated as less-than-humans.

    Jason

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  3. Gee... I wonder if this is a culture thingy (being very frank and loud), or lack of education? I don't think she meant to be rude. Maybe that is the way she talks. I was visiting HK before SARS hit HK. I saw a middle age lady selling umbrellas in Wong-kok swearing after a caucasion women for touching her umbrella and did not buy it. It was funny, as if watching a HK comedy movie, but at the same time, being a chinese, I felt ashame.
    I lived in Japan for 10 years and never have I seen a sales person swearing at his/her customers. Everybody is so very polite. I do think politeness reflects a superiority of a culture.
    I heard things got better after SARS.
    Hopefully it won't be an issue anymore.

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  4. I don't think the cashier was "frank." She was annoyed with all those Maindlanders who in her mind don't know where they are going.

    Racial prejudice is everywhere in Hong Kong, and is quite acceptable. In "My Pet Peeves," I wrote about the "pecking order" in Hong Kong. South East Asians (e.g. Filipinos and Indonesians) and South Asians (e.g. Indians and Pakistanis) often bear the brunt. It really does make my skin crawl and blood boil.

    Jason

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  5. Sir reading your blog i was struck by our collective tendency to eavesdrop on others' conversations during the course of the day. This is a misfortune that speaks to the lack of refuge for one to find peace in our city. I often don't want to listen to the small talks in the washrooms or on the MTR, but every time my strive for complacency is bound to be broken either by their cynicism or hypocrisy. This is i think the drawback amidst the vibrancy of Hong Kong.

    As always your article is food for thoughts.

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  6. You are quite right! Everywhere I go in the city, I pick up random conversations, many of them highly personal. But to be eavesdropped, the conversation by definition must be private. People forfeit their so called "expectation of privacy" by talking so loudly in crowded public places. In fact, I think these loud-talkers are invading MY privacy by forcing conversations into my head! I am sure you know what I mean.

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  7. I totally agree with Jason there. I especially find it annoying when people in the MTR discuss personal matters on the phone so loud, that even listening to your music with earphones on, you cannot avoid 'eavedropping'. Like Jason, I rather feel my personal space invaded, as they obviously don't care who can hear their conversation.

    I find rudeness from sales staff unforgivable, and my wife and I have stopped patronizing several places in Hong Kong because of that. Unfortunatelly, reporting that behaviour to managers and such is often fruitless.

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  8. Nice article!

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  9. Thanks for your comments, Alex.

    If sales people are rude to you and your wife, at least you can fight back or defend yourself. But when they pick on immigrants or other more vulnerable groups, the "victims" often just have to swallow it. That's why it irks me so much more.

    Jason

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  10. I really, really liked this...I went through the same immigration experience going form El Salvador to the U.S....and I can sense and share the empathy you have for those newly arrived Mainland families...it would be really interesting to hear more about what can be done to help them assymilate, and since Hong Kong is such a cosmopolitan city...it should be feasible, shouldn't it?

    Reading this article reminded me that one of the greatest gifts a person can give others is to treat them with dignity...regardless of their origin, and we should strive to cultivate this in our lives.

    Thanks.

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  11. Thanks, Isabel. Immigration and racial equality are both very personal issues to me. I am glad you feel the same way.

    I will do some research to see if there are ways to help new immigrants adjust to the new environment. It is a very worthwhile cause. At the end of day, however, it has to start from the people who are from here. On second thought, perhaps it makes more sense to educate the non-immigrants instead of the immigrants!

    Jason

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  12. actually came across similar experience like yr city-super experience back then, which happened in Tokyo (surprise !) But another happening towards the latter part of the trip gave me a different perspective.
    http://edpf.blogspot.com/2008/09/blog-post_7825.html

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  13. Having read this entry, what I have discovered is there have been some (either local Hongkongers or those new immigrants from Mainland China) surprisingly share little knowledge on how to pay respect to one another. Well, I believe it is a matter of "family education" and the issue of "self development". The two instances you have drawn are so ubiquitous that they somehow elicit a fact that the civil education unfortunately sees its way to degenerate among some of the locals, if not all.
    By the way, I wish these instances would not be part of nowadays mainstream culture in Hong Kong. Otherwise, it will definitely be a real disaster...

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  14. I had the same experience last week when I was at Citysuper shopping one night. The teenage girl was not only rude to me but also rude to the Korean woman behind me. So I was furious and went up to the customer service counter and demanded to speak to the store manager. The manager assured me that he would have a word with the teenage girl. Few hours later, the manager called me and assured me that he has reprimanded the teenage girl and gave her verbal warning. If her bad behavior persists, she would be terminated.

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  15. You are an interventionist! Good for you.

    Jason

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  16. Malheureusement, c'est la loi sociale de la nature. Ayant émigré en France dans les années 80 (au lieu de Canada comme beaucoup de HongKongais) J ai moi même expérimenté une bonne dose de condescendance dans ce pays. Et il n y a pas de solution miracle, faut juste travailler plus dure pour réussir. Ceci est aussi valable pour les nouveaux immigrants a HK. A la vue de leur réussite les imbéciles se tairont....

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  17. Merci infiniment de votre commentaire, ekp. Vous avez raison, nous tout le besoin de travailler plus dure pour soulever la conscience. Avez-vous éprouvé une discrimination flagrante?

    Jason

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  18. Hi Jason

    I've been thinking about the last paragraph you wrote. What do you mean by interferring with nature? Do you imply that it is in our nature to be rude to ones different from us? Or simply the minority? I don't think that's what you meant but what is the 'nature of a different, more complex sort'?

    Margaret

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  19. it's not just capitalism, it tells a lot how our education system have failed to do its job.

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