Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
14-20 September 2003
Sun, 14 Sept
A simple, early morning stroll down the Mid-Levels Escalator into Central becomes an epic struggle when I am consumed by a crowd of Mainland tourists and find that I have forgotten to recharge the batteries in my electric cattle prod.  Eventually reaching Pacific Coffee in a slightly bedraggled state, I sit back in the sofa with a mango-flavoured latte to read the news.  The hot topic of the day is Hong Kong's new investment promotion slogan,
Our Financial District Isn't Sinking 12-15mm A Year!.  Some say it's a bit cruel.  But is it our fault that Shanghai is gradually being brought down to earth?  I for one will not miss the grotesque and ugly Oriental Pearl TV Tower when it vanishes from sight in 31,200 years.
468m and ugly
Mon, 15 Sept
Hats off to plucky little Sweden, telling the Euro-rabble
what to do with their ridiculous currency and the rest of the planned Franco-German Reich.  I can’t help wondering – why are there no Swedes here in Hong Kong?  We have Senegalese drummers, Colombian pickpockets, Ukrainian prostitutes, American lawyers, British police officers – everything except Swedish welfare claimants (or lumberjacks, or whatever these noble people do these days).  Perhaps, given their proud reputation for self-killing, they are jealous of us.  Only Hong Kong can tell the world “we have more suicides than road deaths” – and we don’t even drive Volvos.

Does Shri Chaubal deserve a Gold Bauhinia Medal for his bravery in bringing this
vile, loathsome, vomit-inducing abomination to the world’s attention?  Should Mike Rowse, Rolling Stones promoter, creator of the world’s first state-owned Disneyland and boss of InvestHK, be tried for crimes against humanity?  Yes and yes.  The fate of the portly and affable Chinese passport-holding Mr "Raus" has surely been sealed by the disclosure of the conditions inside the trains that will carry victims to the Mouse concentration camp.  (Where will they store the motion discomfort receptacles – which it goes without saying will be desperately needed?)
Tue, 16 Sept
Idly perusing a bookshelf in the Big Boss’s office, I spot potentially embarrassing, even dangerous, literature – Falun Gong books.  Like many of Hong Kong’s great and good, in both business and government, the Chairman and Chief Executive of S-Meg Holdings was introduced to this particular brand of mystical nonsense by Mainland counterparts in 1998.  Unlike some of our more spiritual tycoons and senior officials, he never took the faith seriously – he found its lack of emphasis on the accumulation of material wealth rather uninspiring.   So while the rest of Hong Kong’s establishment hurriedly disposed of their Fa paraphernalia when Beijing declared war on the cancerous sect, the Big Boss absent-mindedly left its demented ramblings gathering dust on the shelf.  I flick through
Eliminating Evil Is Doing Fa-Rectification and Is Also Saving the World's People and Sentient Beings. Like the Big Boss, I don’t get it.  “The Fa rectifies the Cosmos, the Evil is completely eliminated,” it says.  Yes, but why do you need to sit on a huge uncooked pizza?
Wed, 17 Sept
The next outbreak of SARS will be much more virulent than/probably comparable to/considerably milder than the last one, because the virus has mutated/the virus has not mutated/our immune systems are better prepared. Furthermore, public health surveillance systems are woefully inadequate/still being put into place/working effectively, and the medical profession is utterly clueless/increasingly positive/bursting with undisguised confidence about diagnostic and treatment methods.  Can we be certain about anything?  Yes we can – the very mention of SARS will send all sorts of myopic/nervous/stupid Hong Kong stock market investors to dump airline/retail/hotel shares like Cathay Pacific/Giordano/Regal at silly prices, enabling rational/cool/handsome people like me to buy/buy/buy and then sell/sell/sell a few months later at a 50% or more profit. Or just keep them – my crystal ball says the Hang Seng Index will hit 20,000 before 2006, and it’s
not the only one.  The housing shortage we will have in three years’ time as a result of our visionary leaders’ current attempts to prop up the market makes property stocks especially attractive.  They are a play on HK Government stupidity – something we can always be certain about.

Thurs, 18 Sept
Start the day by simultaneously improving my mind and body – reading the news while burning off 1,000 calories on the stairmaster at the gym.  I’ve put on several pounds since becoming a restaurant reviewer for
BC Magazine’s Guide 2004.  It sounds like fun, but I don’t want to see another civet cat steak in raspberry-balsamic sauce on a bed of dried tomato and avocado mousse as long as I live.  The news is dull.  Two bimbo stories.  First, actress Kwan Sau-mai receives a 14-day sentence for switching drivers after she crashed her car.  The judge?  None other than Magistrate Allan Wyeth, who gave car-crashing, driver-swapping Cantopop genius Nicholas Tse an even lighter sentence.  Second, a German woman flees a Shenzhen “modelling agency” that allegedly held her hostage.  Is she really so dim that she imagines “models” aren’t hookers?  An interesting game.  Leaving aside Omo, Dicky and the other males, which of the merchandise in the catalogue probably has the lowest IQ?  I think #315, Jeane, but I suppose only those who pay to have sex with the brain-dead will ever find out.
Fri, 19 Sept
Sleep badly, haunted by visions of a beaver copulating furiously with a hippopotamus and giving rise to a race of
buffalo-sized guinea pigs in Venezuela 8 million years ago.  What a tragedy that these impressive beasts are no longer with us.  What would they been like braised in butter and red wine with tarragon?  Or perhaps roasted and served with mustard sauce?  Or barbecued with a marinade of soy, hoisin, vinegar, sesame and ginger?  All we can do is eat very large amounts of small, modern guinea-pig with our eyes closed, and use our imaginations.

A previously unseen resident of Perpetual Opulence Mansions – a gwailo – smiles and says "hello" to me in the lobby.  He must be new to Hong Kong, and imagines that neighbours talk to each other here. I will put an anonymous note in his mailbox advising him of the protocol.
Will he be here in seven years?  I ponder his fate during this morning’s meeting of the Immigration Department’s Non-Chinese Residents’ Advisory Committee.   With so many Western riffraff qualifying for permanent residency these days, Hong Kong is challenged to find ways to weed out the undesirables.  Officials explore applicants’ local ties. Do you own property here?  Can you get the tones right when you scream "lei ho SEI laa!" at the driver whose Mercedes you are kicking after he disrupts your jaywalking?  Do you indulge in frequent, frenzied rutting with locals?  Applicants whine about the “personal” nature of such a quiz.  What’s to be done?  “I think the Department is asking the wrong questions,” I tell the Committee.  “All sorts of objectionable gwailos can slip through, simply because they attend erhu lessons, have a degree in oriental languages or dress up in creepy looking costumes and practice martial arts in public. You need to positively identify the unacceptable ones.”  Much nodding around the table.  By the end of the meeting we have made a small start on Immigration Department internal guidelines – “Gwailos who don’t belong in HK: What to look for ”.

- Insist on buying huge bottles of Watson’s distilled H
2O rather than drink the tap water that’s good enough for the rest of us
- Refuse to eat any seafood unless it is caught in the territorial waters of a white, English-speaking country   
- Scared of eating curried squid, fishballs and other delicacies from street-side vendors
- Complain of headaches due to MSG, overhead power cables, “formaldehyde” in San Mig beer
- Large and/or hairy enough to frighten children
- Make a fuss when busy people with things to do push past into lifts, trains, etc
- Use a large, unwieldy pushchair instead of carrying a baby in crowded areas with lots of steps
- Plan to go to "
Family Fest (Saturday and Sunday, 18-19 October, daytime) Some of the most popular children's acts … including the #1 children's act in the world - The Wiggles direct from Australia, Disney's JAAM featuring Mickey Mouse and Friends, Hong Kong's own Scotty & Lulu, Warner Brother's Looney Tunes character show, Barbie, the Snoopy character show and Hong Kong's Good Buddies.
- Belong to Hong Kong’s Good Buddies, whoever they are

This list could become very, very long