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The Dabinlo Gang

bbqgang (Leica X1)

"Dabinlo", literally hot potting, is a faddish Cantonese colloquial term amusingly describing the common street scene of smokers taking cigarette breaks around the iconic orange rubbish bins. What is reminiscent of real Cantonese hot potting is not the eating element in smoking but the images of smokers repeatedly dropping ashes into the astray fitted atop the rubbish bins and of the astray giving out smoke from the ashes and lit stubs left in it. (If you don’t know, for Cantonese hot potting, the locals dip raw food into the pot of boiling soup and draw it out for consumption when cooked. An old post about Cantonese hot pot is here)

Contributing to this street hot potting culture is the rolling out of the stringent indoor smoking ban in Hong Kong. Since then, smokers have no chance to assuage their regular spasms of sense of insecurity occurring in indoor places or public transport. To save themselves from dying of not smoking, they hold onto the rubbish bins in the street as life saving rings (Note: Simply smoke and drop ashes in the street don't pay as this is liable to a fine for littering the street), making this culture take root in the territory.

Lunchtime is the best time for hot-potting spotting (oh, it rhymes!). Desperate smokers will lunch quickly in like 15 minutes and spend the rest of their lunchtime energizing themselves with tobacco chemicals enough for trickling throughout their major organs until the next possible charge. So, the hot potting takes long enough for even making an impromptu social gathering with co-workers who also think that not smoking can kill. While the smoking community spirit and protective shields of tobacco clouds build up among the large crowd around the rubbish bin, the bin becomes rather inaccessible to those who rather think smoking can kill. Put it more precisely, the non-smokers are actually put off by the toxic mists and don't bother to go any closer.

It isn't much of a problem if you are a non-smoker and wish to throw away some rubbish only. Dash forward, trash the rubbish, retreat as fast as your legs can carry you and that's it. But if the rubbish bin is placed next to a bus stop, and you are waiting in line, the only escape is to take a deep breath and hold it between the intervals of second-hand smoke wafting through. The locals have called for the government to rectify this annoying situation.

So, who knows if today's shot would become a visual testimony to the dying culture among the cigarette smokers dying to smoke?


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