Saturday, 19 May 2012

Shop Despite Raindrops

shopinrain (Ricoh GX200)

My eye was attracted by the mysterious tone of the colour of the scene. Hong Kong has been raining in one hour and heating up with sunshine in another for a week. This so reminds me of the notorious four-seasons-in-a-day weather in Melbourne.

The ISO400 doesn't fair well. I knew that it wasn't from day one, but this is more unbearable for today's standard.

What a wishful thinking that Ricoh can follow up the GX series with a new one in the same body but a new sensor inside.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Life Goal

lifegoal (Leica X1)

These days the chance of seeing a movie with an all-star oldie cast is few and far between. But if you are interested, there is one on recently. It's The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel. I watched a preview of this thought-provoking work of John Madden, the director who swept seven Academy awards with the Shakespeare in Love back in 1998. Marigold Hotel is themed on the notion of aging, life goals and the regrets of life.

In the movie, the director tried to portrait two types of people. One is those who are unduly absorbed in the past. They live in memories, in regrets for the good old days, or in sadness about the things they have or have not done in life. It was heart-warming to see in the movie some gradually managed to liberate themselves from the missing pieces of life which had oppressed their soul for too long. But grabbing a stronger hold of the heart were the sad moments when the characters clung back to their comfort zone in the hope of sucking vigour from what vitality they wrongly thought might have left in it.

The other type is those who don't care much about the statistical fact of the years they had lived, still less of the brevity of their future. They went on pursuing their personal passion, searching for love and sex. This is where I could not quite buy the plot. Searching for love and sex for the sake of having them is just as good as it gets. There should be something behind but the director has failed to dig deeper. I mean, what makes it easier to live a fruitful old age are impersonal interests instead. As one grows old, the ego should recede and become merged in the universal life. At the other end of life, what matters most is not what pleases one’s own heart but what one can no longer do but will be carried on.

Apart from this wistful sense of wanting something deeper, I think `the Marigold Hotel is fairly recommendable.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

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?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Heavily Tattooed Folks

tattooedfolks (Leica X1)

I bumped into these three visitors with tattoos all over them. The next thing on my mind was going over to ask them for a snap. And I did.  Normally, going over to tattooed people is a no-no in Hong Kong. Why? You may ask.

In China, the history of tattooing goes as far back as to around the Warring States Period (A.D. 403 to 221). For example, as given in the ancient books, the lord of the then Yue state had tattoos. While tattooing could also be closely associated with branding as one of the punishments for criminals in the imperial days, tattoos were taken more as ornamentations as time wore on. Take for example the Outlaws of the Marsh (circa 960-1279), one of the four ancient chefs-d'oeuvre of China (the other three are The Story of the Stone, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West). The novelist invented three characters with tattoos on their body in the novel. Could these characters be taken from real life personalities? I have no doubt.

In the Hong Kong context, however, tattoos impart a negative feeling in general. This has much to do with the triad societies’ ceremony to bring people into their fold, which is receiving tattoos as a proof of courage. Tattooing is so closely connected with the gangsters that there is a common saying, "Blue dragon (tattoo) on the left (forearm) and white tiger (tattoo) on the right (forearm)" as an euphemism to describe them. So the locals generally won’t approach tattooed people.

Surely, among the younger generations in Hong Kong, they are more receptive of tattooing as a fashionable thing. Fact is, Hong Kong has a locally born tattoo master named Gabe. He is very famous in the trade and has tattooed a great number of celebrities including Beckham. The Radio and Television Hong Kong has aired a Chinese TV episode about Gabe and his tattooing works. Guess what? He revealed that one of the most unforgettable tattoos he had ever done was a snake head on a client's penis!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Aging and Musings

oldladies (Ricoh GX200)

Some years ago, I bookmarked a column article titled "My Guide to Old Age" written by Brian Aldiss for the Guardian back in 2006. It was not that I was or am - but for everyone the time will come one day - old enough to need the consultation myself but that, as an octogenarian, he gave an insight in one spot which human nature is rooted in.

Which is love.

As you read along the article, you may see that threading through his tips is the theme of love. The love of life, of reading, of exploring around, of the awaking hours and, the most important of all, the love shown by and towards his woman.

He wrote in the middle part of the article before turning to the inconveniences of old age, "Many people feel old at 30. I still feel young in spirit. And there is a great abounding reason for that, though she has begged me not to mention her name. She is just the most empathic, intelligent, adorable woman I have had the luck to meet. My winter sunshine."

Wow, winter sunshine. If feeling has a colour, this has to be glowing with warmth in a golden cast.

The notion that we need love is so obviously important and unmistakeably comprehensible that seeing people being unable to be consistently stimulated by the abstract noun "love" is mind-boggling. In most cases, what we let consistently stimulate ourselves is not love but the feeling patronised by our emotions. We love who and what we find lovable, listen to who and what pleases us and react in a likewise fashion. These are the least qualities to be called love, just as crème brulee with salt is not what crème brulee is supposed to be.

Love has a recipe too. While ours are different as we may not share the same taste, there are some universal ingredients, of which one is broad-mindedness. Love is not compatible with egoism, just as we don’t use salt for crème brulee. Regrettably, and metaphorically, for the matter of love, this is the wrong thing we have been doing and we may even have added salt into the cup of expresso that comes with the crème brulee.

It is exactly because adulterating love with egoism is intrinsic to our nature that we need to consciously scale down our ego when going about earthly matters, including love, and especially love. Otherwise, be prepared that at the end of winter there may still be no sunshine heaving into sight, be the sun a person or a personal endeavour.

If I can add an effective tip about clipping the ego, I would say, at least mind your words. Very often we infuriate with and are infuriated by words, the remote control to activate our ego. George Eliot put this point cleverly in her Adam Bede, "Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings -- much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth." Put it the other way round, show tolerance towards what others are saying. They are probably putting down the words in a way not exactly as what they mean.

Such a flair in intelligently illustrating facts and feelings is what gives me the greatest pleasure of reading. In the same measure, Brian vividly illustrates an inconvenience of aging and his feeling on the prospect of passing away in the ending paragraphs of his guide to old age:

"I require spasms of sleep during the day. I will be sitting in an armchair, perhaps watching television or perhaps reading - at present it is the TLS and John Heilpern's magnificent biography of John Osborne - and I fall asleep. At least, that is what I call it. But, like those unfortunates caught on the wrong side of the Sittang Bridge when it blew, I find myself on the wrong side of consciousness. I have entirely blanked out.
Perhaps I come back to myself after half an hour. I am astonished. And I reflect that a time may come when I blank out for good, there in the armchair, Heilpern's book unfinished on my knee. Be warned, darling! 
This marvellous, unique lifetime will be over. But what an easy way to go ..."

Monday, 14 May 2012

Drowsiness, Thy Name Is Monday

buddas (Leica X1)

Workers of the world, arise!

Hey, gweilo and gweipo, how can you be drinking all night and unaffected by the overnight visceral alcoholic fermentation, huh?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Care for Mum

mumday (Leica D-Lux5)

This is a special day to take special care of your mum. Happy Mother's Day.