Sunday, 16 October 2011

All that's left to do now is put the kettle on

In my England-Hong Kong transition, I have reached the six-week slump.

The six-week slump is the source of all my woes, and probably yours. There is even a good-looking graph for it.

But isn't it true? Six weeks in, and whatever-it-is crashes about your ears in a what-is-the-point cacophony. It-is-all-crap-crappity-crap.

And it could be ANYTHING, from relationships to those new table mats I bought? Exactly 6 weeks ago? They are crap as well.

(I might have accidentally discovered the beating heart of consumerism here: it is our six-week cycle demanding a fresh shopping visit to get us over the disillusionment dip.)

Now, six weeks into HK? I can say, fully and frankly, with statistical graphery to back me up, what gloss there was has worn off and I am finding some of the Chinese very annoying.

Living in a place where I am outnumbered by about seven million of them now seems a rather stupid thing to do. Going to the government fun beach today where 2,538 of them are cavorting about semi naked is also a stupid thing to do.

Particularly stupid is to sit on a beach mat on a Sunday and get out a book, expecting to read the damn thing in peace and quiet.

Within 15 minutes along comes The Having Fun the Chinese Way Party. They start Having Fun.

Imagine a stage entertainer (baseball hat, kooky get up) shouting jokes with planned spontaneity from which the crowd may demonstrate the happy sounds of synchronised laughter. Organised, socially responsible team games are involved. Every so often, the leader of the group enthusiastically yells orders and everyone turns to the Having Fun photographer and poses.

I had to move four times to get out the way of this lot. Admittedly, the third time was because the Chinese family next to me threw sand all over me, in an incident I put down to me being an ethnic minority.

But I accept that this is a two-way process. I accept, after six weeks, the Chinese are fed up with having me around too. It is unavoidable. We must all now take some time to stare at each other in bewilderment and irritation before we decide to make the best of a bad job and live together for the next few months.

And I must swallow my homesick. I must be generous. I must remember that of course the Chinese do not understand the English psyche, nor why we go to the beach at all. To make ourselves feel better when we disapprove, correct each other, make sweeping negative judgments, exercise subtle ways of social oneupmanship and, in an annoying whining voice, remind everyone how things really would be soooo much better if we could all just have a bit more stiff upper lip and chin up.

See? The pitch between the waste bin and the concrete tower suited me fine.
Then I had to move. I picked up my dead zebra bag with a great deal of demonstrative
huffing and puffing, and no-one batted an eyelid! Oh England, I miss you.


Nora said...

I thought being superior to other people was only a Dutch trait. I didn't know that the English were genetically burdened by it too. It is a lot of responsibility, isn't it? If it weren't for us, the world would go to hell in a hand basket.

Kelly said...

Ummm, I lived in Hong Kong 29 years ago, and in Vancouver off and on for many years, so I also have a bit of snotty anti-Chinese sentiment that has to be beaten out of the psyche from time to time. Mine mostly involves cars....