Changing musical and other
Made In Hong Kong scenes
It’s not LIKE starting with a clean slate. It IS starting with a clean slate. And a different mindset. About using everything you already know, sometimes the hard way which are the best life lessons, but adding new ingredients into the mix. Breaking from tradition. Moving away from déjà vu. Moving into déjà nouveau. Leaving Juarez when it’s Easter time, too. When gravity falls and negativity won’t pull you through.
Hong Kong today is finding it hard to move forward. Too often, its own past keeps it from letting go of what once was. It’s like a long term relationship.
Though even if it ended almost a lifetime ago, there’s usually something that wraps a relationship around your entire being like a ring. It’s often a guilt trip with maybe a hint of the perennial romantic inside of you. It’s knowing someone else has moved into your heart, but you’re still not allowing them into your life.
It’s always clinging to the past and romanticising it when it upped and left even when supposedly two were meant to be one. Often, it’s a cop out. Trying to make the impossible work.
Being creatures of habit, many of us in Hong Kong long for a time that’s come and gone. Was it really that good? Maybe it was, but probably for not the reasons one thinks.
Do we let what’s new in? Often? Or do we detonate it before it can lead somewhere? And with someone different? But just maybe, changes are afoot…it’s how one approaches whatever new is going on around you and going on inside your head.
The word that’s being mentioned around me more and more often these days is “community”. Not some time-consuming online community going nowhere, but creating active, inter-active communities in the real world.
It’s about facing challenges, and instead of backing off, seeing opportunities in these. Seeing positivity. But without being an opportunist.
That entrepreneurial spirit just might be here and now in Hong Kong. It’s about feeling this and making things work.
What often stops it in the tracks is not having a fairy godmother. Or a sugar daddy with the seed money. But perhaps this has to do with Simply Red singing “Money’s Too Tight To Mention” in the background or dreaming too big and not looking at what’s doable and letting things evolve instead of becoming Oliver Twisted.
Around ten years ago, an intern was forced onto me. All he would do was lounge around the apartment, watch Channel E! and talk about how one day it would be him who would be interviewed on the red carpet. How he would nab a Kardashian and how the living would be easy. His work ethos was to learn to get paid for doing nothing.
He’s still around dreaming big. To him, there’s no such thing as paying one’s dues. It’s about grabbing that brass ring by doing the minimum of work. It’s not working. Nothing has worked out for him in almost two decades. Nothing other than an inner rage that he’s somehow owed. It often boils over until you think you’re sitting with Howard Beale having a meltdown.
Some of the women dated after my divorce loved the nightlife and the lifestyle. Kanye sang about a couple of them.
Whereas the American ex-wife changed from friend and lover and spiritual reminder to, without knowing it, workaholic, giver and part of the social stratosphere of playing the role of married life, some of the women who came and left saw a very expensive free meal ticket dressed in designer threads. It was a different time. The entertainment allowances created the life and world around many of us. We had it all and more. Kids in a candy store. Anything and anyone could be bought. What #MeToo? Women were pursuers with more voracious appetites.
A few were different. Came from different backgrounds and with very different mind sets. They wanted to understand the heart of Hong Kong and live smack dab in the middle of it all. But these partners were few and far between- those who shunned the upmarket luxury service apartments for funky old digs with no elevators, bad plumbing but which had high ceilings, space and a personality different to a sterile cuckoo. Apartments which were within walking distance to everything that made Hong Kong tick and tock- the wet markets, the shops selling different Chinese herbs, the traditional tai pai dongs…
At the time, I didn’t get it. I had been spoilt and wanted those five star comforts and a shallow lifestyle. Living in Sleepy Shallow and mixing with others also from the pretentious side of the street. Nothing was going to change our privileged world. No one wanted to see how the other half lived. And now we’re here…
Social media and the fakery of fame that’s been purchased has not helped things. Not slapped many hard enough into reality. Not yet, anyway. But what offers hope for the present and future of Hong Kong is what’s happening in areas like Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. It’s about some of the people in these areas- and elsewhere. It’s always about the people.
There’s an indie spirit here. A generation comprising those with an international outlook on life, but knowing they’re part of Hong Kong and with no delusions of grandeur. No need for it.
It’s more about creating a community- galleries, bars, restaurants and everything else- and always giving something back to the city.
What a concept: Giving without only taking. Not big noting without the coin.
Instead, what’s quickly developing is something like a Greenwich Village of Hong Kong. Of course, the opportunists haven’t disappeared and neither is the Greed Is Good business model.
When having, however, seen these up close and personal and when Hong Kong was drowning in a sea of pretentiousness and making damn sure no one saw everything that was falling apart and how the China Club was all about keeping up false pretences and playing to the usual theatre of the absurd who are around still blowing air kisses across the floor, this sad old world that tries to continue as if nothing has changed is just plain sad. And those who “rule” it are delusional. The truth is a hard pill to swallow, mommie dearest.
The air is very different amongst those pockets of activity down places like Fuk Sau Lane. This is where my friend Taran, below, opened up Black Salt.
Black Salt seats twenty two people. Taran does the cooking. The food- and they’re his originals- is very very good.
What adds to the personality of his restaurant is it’s neighbourhood. That sense of community. Right opposite Black Salt is the welcoming and casual Bamboo Scenes.
Founded by Madelon de Grave, here is a home for Hong Kong photographers to showcase and sell their work. A percentage of the profits go to charity. Her openness is infectious.
There are other Fuk Sau streets within walking distance. Different people to meet and get to know. I’m not on Facebook. But this Fuk Sau street is about having good neighbours around you and block parties and where pet dogs interact with us human animals.
Across the road is the “ménage a trois” attraction of the three headed Potato Head.
Close by is the ONLY authentic Sri Lankan restaurant in Hong Kong- Serendib. Next door to is the club Yardbird.
Everywhere is a melting pot of different nationalities. It’s community.
Returning with my current partner to where we stay after spending time in Sai Ying Pun which is not that far away from where we stay, we both knew that where we are is not for us.
It’s got everything. Except a soul. And a neighbourhood community. We know this. And how this is not for us.
What to do next?
Changing musical and other
Made In Hong Kong scenes
#Hongkong #saiyingpun #sheungwan #BlackSaltHK #BambooScenes #neighbourhood #HansEbert #life #relationships