Sunday, February 07, 2010

Do Not Turn Aside

Coming off the walkway across Hennessy, as I had exited Wanchai MTR Station on the wrong side of the road, the scraping wail of one of those Chinese fiddles assaulted my ears. The crowds parted as I elbowed my way to the stairs and I saw the young busker. A round-faced, red-cheeked girl in a red cheongsam was kneeling with her back towards the concrete wall above the entrance to the stairway. She ran her bow back and forth across the strings to create that tuneless screech as she stared forward, focused on some invisible middle distance, as if the crowd wasn't there..

I have never seen such a sad face. Forlorn, abandoned, lonely, miserable.

How long had she been sitting there? What cruel parent had made her busk like this, obviously against her will? Or was she an illegal immigrant, 'good daughter' from Mainland China, perhaps supporting a desperately poor family? Why is life so harsh? Why did she have to make such a horrible racket?


Speaking of crowds parting, I'd forgotten how the MTR rush-hour commuters here are even more rude and obstructive than the Singaporean MRT crowds. I was alighting at Causeway Bay (the most crowded square mile on the planet - it's amazing) and had placed myself at the left half of the doors, (sing Mao car goon chair moon - Please stand clear of the the doors) almost at the pillar, as I began to move out.

A man on the platform was trying to squeeze himself onto the train and hoped to come in between myself and the edge of the left (his right) door. In order for him to accomplish this ambitous task, I would have had to move or turn aside - but of course a) I couldn't because of the pressure of the people also alighting on my right and b) I didn't want to. Lose face to this rude prick? No way.

Even though there are now wardens at some of the stations bearing red lightsabres (I kid you not), the log-jam of off-ers and on-ers remains unabated. The culture of inconsideration continues. Well, you want to be inconsiderate? *I* can teach you the hazards of such inconsideration. Don't thank me now.

So I just kept moving forward, relentlessly, one might say if one was of a dramatic bent. He was was actually a step into the carriage when I got to him. I did not turn aside, nor did I slow down. I kept looking straight ahead and I kept moving straight ahead.

I caught about 3/4 of his body and took him about two paces with me, all the way off the train and back onto the platform.

Score 1: E@L.


Gotta go, pack bags, take a dump, get on plane, finish (DH: fast-paced, not) 'Self's Punishment' - one of Bernhard Schlink's early detective novels (Schlink wrote The Reader, you know the movie with lots of Kate Winslett's tits.)

More HK vignettes, if I remember them, later.



HKMacs said...

Most of these buskers/beggars/Buddhist monks etc are shipped in from China by triads - very nasty exploitation going.

Anonymous said...

I love the bit where you took him back off the train. Sounds like you have got the hang of dealing with the crowds! What happens if somebody falls?

Momentary Madness said...

With plasticine porters and looking glass ties, suddenly someone is there by the turnstile a girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

expat@large said...

HKMacs: I think it was her mother on the steps, waiting, head down on a small roller suitcase handle, fast asleep.

Techo: I you fall I will catch you I'll always be waiting...

MomMad: suddenly 40,000 people are there at the turnstiles...

Trains come every 2mins at peak hours, there are like 16 - 20 carriages long, and always jam-packed.

expat@large said...

The word i was looking for was 'melancholy'.

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