By Hans Ebert
Melvis, real name Tsui Kam-kong, 68, is gone and long live the King of Lan Kwai Fong. Those of us who have made Hong Kong home know Melvis from his performances throughout most of the Central district of this city for the past three decades.
I would always run into him when having dinner at what still remains one of the best restaurants Hong Kong ever had- Bistro Manchu. That wonderful restaurant managed by the always honest Tom- “No order any more, Mister Hans. This enough”- and with a menu that included the best pan fried dumplings anywhere and the brilliant Cumin Lamb, closed its doors over a year ago along with many other restaurants in Elgin Street.
As for Melvis, what did we know about him? Who was he, where did he live and what was his back story? It’s more important now than ever before to know things like this before it’s too late, because the Hong Kong we knew and often took for granted has gone- disappeared almost overnight.
For myself and a few friends I was talking to earlier today, Melvis takes us back to a Hong Kong where everything was possible and there wasn’t a care in the world. We weathered all kinds of storms.
As kids, we helped our parents tape up our windows and waited excitedly for typhoons to strike. Some of us even took a cavalier attitude towards the Handover in 1997. It was about living for the moment. The future could wait and the past was lost in the fog of yesterday. It was always about the Here and Now.
Some were falling in love for the first time, others had watched that ship sail away and quickly found new ports of call to regroup and get on with living.
Others had dined with kings and queens and rolled those tumbling dice to see where they might land. There were many nights where we might not have known where we were, but we never forgot where we came from. It made us who we are today- definitely not perfect, but imperfections create character and often give one a third eye and a sixth sense.
Those of us not born with a silver spoon in our mouths and who came up the hard way probably only recently understand and appreciate everything our parents went through to give us the best. They kept the big bad wolf from huffing and puffing and blowing our doors down. We might have seen signs of what we perceived to be weaknesses and character flaws in them, but they were always looking out for us- their kids. Wherever they are, they’re still looking out for us- their kids.
Us? We’re doing the best that we can. Some of us have seen it all- everything Hong Kong was and is and stopping to smell the dim sum as kids, as teenagers, as man children and as adults.
These days, a word like “resilient” is used a lot. Too much. Living and growing up in Hong Kong made us resilient without even knowing it. It’s what made us roll with the punches. It’s what’s made many of us pretty much a Chumbawamba song. We get knocked down, we get up. But we don’t stop fighting. We don’t stop doing. We haven’t come this far to pull the shades down and roll over.
Many might say they “knew” Melvis. Okay. One wonders who was with him when he packed up and left this place after playing his last gig?
How much did we really know about that man in the sequinned jumpsuit who impersonated Elvis for tips?
How much do we really know about anything and anyone?
This is the selfish side of Hong Kong- too often only caring and looking after numero uno and with family values (and even family) kicked to the curb.
This was not how we were raised, but it’s how many of us have become. Entitled.
Our parents wouldn’t like what they see. Neither would the city that once was a barren rock.
That third eye, however, sees everything. It acts as your soul and conscience.
#Melvis #Elvisimpersonator #hongkong #familyvalues #life #family #bistromanchu