LNII stands for Lower Ngau Tau Kwok (II) Estate, the last resettlement estate to be redeveloped in Hong Kong. You may wish to read first five instalments of this series here, here, here, here and here. The photos presented in this series were taken by me with my GX200 during my two visits to the estate. Today, let's meet an interesting man.
Yesterday, we read some stories about the old-style Shanghainese barbershops. Just as I was ready to leave the Hei Lin Beauty Parlour, an old man showed up through the back door. Obviously, he had just had an haircut at Hei Lin.
"Take photos of me," he kept saying, pointing an index finger to himself.
That was the moment absolutely welcomed by any photographer. At once, I uncapped the GX200 and turned it on. "Click! Click! Click!" went the camera shutter.
"Take more, take more," he was apparently in a high mood, grinning from ear to ear as he spoke.
After some shots, he set off and it was just natural for a photographer to follow him and take some more shots, just to be sure. As the flash went on and off, he asked me to follow him to his shop.
"Oh, he is a shopowner," I thought to myself, wondering what his trade was. "This is going to be real interesting."
So a minute or two later we were here, "Cheung Tak Shing's Store". It was no doubt that the old man was Cheung Tak Shing himself. His store was a neighbourhood grocery, selling items from cigarettes to joss sticks. It was a tiny store as shown in the picture, with the private section at the back portion of it. The noise from the private section wafted to the walkway outside the store where I was standing. Some people were playing mahjong inside.
I, holding up my camera, asked him, "How old is your shop, Mr Cheung?"
"I have been running it for forty years," he replied and, pausing for some seconds to fumble from his mind, continued, "My store is as old as this estate."
"Wow, that's something of an achievement, Mr Cheung," I said both wholeheartedly and with another question in mind. "And you look so agile in your age!" I exclaimed and succeeded in getting the answer to my unsaid question.
"Well, I am ninety years of age," he let out an air of self-admiration in his voice.
It was this moment when another old man standing just next to me interrupted him in a casual way, "Ah Cheung, you are just eighty one this year." The man was a resident and an old customer of the grocery.
"Oh, yes, yes ,yes. Eighty one this year," the octogenarian owner gasped in surprise and amusement.
(Sales item from bottom clockwise: bottled Chinese herbal drinks, Chinese rice wine, boxes of Chinese alcholic health tonics, various brands of cigarettes on his left and beers below. Well, he makes his living as the good guy and the bad guy)
"I've mixed it up. I am eighty one and have eight children. They are all here today," he looked very pleased about the children as he said this.
"Who won't?" a voice spoke in me .
"Ah Cheung," the old customer was still there, "you have nine children! You must be out of your mind today."
Mr Cheung scratched his head in a comb-over style to cover the otherwise bald head. He laughed heartedly in embarrassment.
"I am eighty one years old and have nine children. Nine children," he showed up nine fingers and corrected himself emphatically.
"Nine children, all here today," he added and smiled. But he was not going to smile in the next second when a voice bursted out from behind me in a high pitch.
"You mindless idiot!" the unfriendly growl alone was fierce enough to warn me to put down my camera, which was pointing at Mr Cheung.
It was Mrs Cheung.
"You are telling your privacy to the whole world, aren't you?" she spoke up with her hands on hip, poking her nose as close as possible over Cheung’s cheek. "How can you be so silly for heaven's sake? Idiot"
Mr Cheung grinned to me in great embarrassment as her cautious wife walked to the private section of the shop. Surely, it was the last thing he wished to impress anyone as being henpecked. So he kept smiling and muttered in a decreasing voice, "Take more photos of me and don't forget to send them back to me.
What a very interesting man he is!
- continue here -