We dug our rented beach umbrella into the sand, tied the runner onto the faulty spring clip, hung our sweaty shirts up on the ribs, spread out our sarongs and mats, and laid down to the sound of gently lapping waves and birds coasting high up in the sky.
And 80’s Cantopop.
For some mysterious reason, Hong Kongers seem to always feel the need to
impose share their musical tastes on with others.
On the bus, on a trail in the mountains, at 4am on a campsite, on a secluded beach (by Hong Kong standards), I have the misfortune to constantly encounter people who play their music out loud like it’s as natural as gonorrhea.
In a crowded city where we try our hardest to pretend we are alone by virtually ignoring everyone and avoiding eye-contact, we’re now also walking straight through people, umbrellas and all, shouting at each other, and playing music like we’re each in our own space bubble.
Because there’s no other way?
We have descended into a mode of living where finding your own space means buttheading everyone else out of it. Who cares if everyone else’s ears are gutted and my beach view is ruined by your favourite whore anthem? Hey this is what I like y’all, so suck it.
In a city like Hong Kong, social civility have degraded so much so that caring about the feelings of others is no longer practical. If going out for a weekday lunch means fighting your way through piercing umbrellas, scowling at people who’ve randomly decided to stop in the middle of the sidewalk for no reason, and pushing through tour groups who thinks the city belongs to them, it seems like the only way to survive is to act like them.
So, in anger- and frustration-inspired fits of vigilante, we have all become egocentric assholes. Someone walks her umbrella into your head? Slap it away. Big mainland tour groups occupying the sidewalk and not making way? Slam into them with your gym bag. Want to get onto the elevator before I’ve had a chance to get off? I dare you to stand there as I walk straight into your face.
We become those we hate.
Have I mentioned umbrellas already? But really, it’s 6pm on a fine summer evening – WHY ARE YOU EVEN HOLDING AN UMBRELLA?! Given the width of our sidewalks, one single large umbrella is more than enough to kick me off into the path of some shirtless guy unloading a truck of LPG cylinders. So pardon me as I shove your umbrella into your friend’s pickle face.