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Showing posts from 2014

Sexless in the City 無慾都市

The notion that Asian folks take a backseat in the sex department has been debunked time and again. The Japanese, for instance, make no secret of their bent for dominatrices and cosplayers. Korean men, on the other hand, can’t seem to find their way home without a stop at the neighborhood hostess bar. The Thai and the Filipino are equally comfortable with expressing their God-given sexuality. In Anything-goes Bangkok and No-tell Manila, the sex trade has gone mainstream and become a main draw for tourists.
What about Hong Kong, a place where skyscrapers rise like phallic symbols and animal genitals are eaten with gusto?
It turns out that Asia’s World City is also one of the world’s most sex-deprived. In a recent poll by the city’s Family Planning Association, 20% of the female respondents said they had no sexual desire, while 24% said they did not achieve orgasm during sex. Another local study found that one in five adult males had not gotten off in the last six months. As if that’s …

Ice Bucket Challenged 挑戰冰桶

By now you are justifiably sick of watching videos of friends and celebrities dumping icy water on themselves. Search the word #icebucketchallenge on Instagram and you will get over a million hits. The latest social media phenomenon, intended to raise awareness for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), began in June and had raged to an all-out Internet frenzy by mid-August. Gangnam Style is so two years ago.

The figures are staggering: in the U.S., the challenge has raised nearly US$80 million (HK$620 million) for the ALS Association in just a few short weeks. 2.4 million videos have been shared on Facebook and 5.5 million mentions have been logged on Twitter. Business schools around the world are re-writing their Marketing 101 course materials to analyze what many believe to be the most successful chain letter stunt in history.
The campaign has spread from a small coastal city in Florida to virtually every corner of the world – except perhaps North Korea and the Ebola-hit West …

Join the Club 入會須知

You have reached a midlife plateau. You have everything you thought you wanted: a happy family, a well-located apartment and a cushy management job. The only thing missing from that bourgeois utopia is a bit of oomph, a bit of recognition that you have played by the rules and done all right. A Porsche 911? Too clichéd. A rose gold Rolex? Got that last Christmas. An extramarital affair that ends in a costly divorce or a boiled bunny? No thanks. How about a membership at one of the city’s country clubs where accomplished individuals like yourself hang out in plaid pants and flat caps? Sounds great, but you’d better get in line.

Clubs are an age-old concept that traces back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The introduction of coffee beans to England in the mid-17th Century spurred the proliferation of coffeehouses for like-minded gentlemen to trade gossip about the monarchy over a hot beverage. In the centuries since, these semi-secret hideouts evolved into main street establishments t…

It’s Complicated 化繁為簡

I grew up in a small flat in Hong Kong. To keep our shoebox of a place organized, my parents gave each of the five children a drawer to store their earthly possessions. Everything I owned growing up – coloring pencils, comic books, a secret stash of Haribo extra-sour cola bottles – had to fit inside a space roughly the size of a briefcase. And everything did. Throughout my childhood, that drawer was my whole life and my whole life was that drawer. When I left for boarding school in my teens, I emptied my belongings into a bag, packed a few pieces of clothing and went on my freewheeling way.

Twenty some years later, things cannot have been more different. The age of owning just one – one backpack, one pair of jeans, one Casio digital watch – is long gone. My current flat, though bigger than the one I grew up in, is bursting at the seams with stuff. Just stuff. I have two iPads, three wine buckets and six area rugs. My kitchen is a Noah’s Ark filled with gadgets I use once or twice a y…

The Dating Game 過期照食

I have a perverse household routine. Every few weeks, I will go through my kitchen cabinet looking for expired food. Canned tuna, tea bags and rice — items for which I had paid good money — will all go into the trash. Once I am done with that, I will move on to the refrigerator to weed out the proverbial bad apples: a half-dozen eggs, a bottle of chili sauce that I had used once or twice, a wedge of cheese still in its original sealed wrap. The purge is indiscriminate and my guilt palpable. I will start talking to the garbage can: “Sorry,” “forgive me,” “I’m a terrible person.” But there is nothing I can do: I am just doing what the white labels say.

I know I am not alone. Each day we throw out food that we believe is past its prime, all because of that tiny, hard-to-read six-digit death sentence called the expiration date. But date labels are a modern mystery. For starters, the wording is confusing and inconsistent — no one knows whether “sell by,” “use by” and “best before” all mea…

When Friends Turn Toxic 當好友變毒友

I have known Thomas since we sat next to each other in third grade. Last month during dinner, I shared a piece of good news with my friend of 30 years.
“Guess what? I finally put a downpayment on this flat I told you about!”
Rather than hearty congratulations, I got a look of displeasure, or a “black face” as the Cantonese people would put it.
“They say the property market is about to crash, you know,” Thomas hissed, suddenly a macroeconomist. “I, for one, am not in a rush to buy.”
For the rest of that evening, a single thought kept playing over and over in my head: Thomas has gone toxic.
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Toxic friends are friends who have grown bitter, unsupportive and downright unbearable over the years. They undermine our achievements but secretly compete with us. They may sneer at our career advancements, make cynical remarks about our love lives or call us names behind our back. It is their passive-aggressive way of reminding us that we are no bet…

Helpers be Helped – Special Chinese New Year Double Issue 救救外傭 – 春節雙刊

The images are gruesome and the details are chilling. A woman held captive in a residence has been starved and beaten beyond recognition. Her teeth are chipped, cheekbones fractured and her limbs covered with cuts and burn marks. It sounds like the Ariel Castro kidnappings in suburban Cleveland or the Brixton Bookshop abduction in Lambeth, England – except it is not. It all happened in Tseung Kwan O, a densely populated community of high-rise residential blocks and large shopping centers. It was there 23-year-old Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was allegedly tortured at the hands of her Hong Kong employer for eight months. She was not paid a cent.

By now the story has captured the attention of the entire city – and far beyond. Not since Edward Snowden checked into the Mira Hotel last summer had so much spotlight been thrown on the not-so-Fragrant Harbour. Beneath the media frenzy and tabloid-style coverage, however, is the sad reality that Erwiana is not alone. In …