We’re on a long weekend to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China (apparently handover is not the right term). There are loads of celebrations and commentary on the telly about how the city has changed in the past 10 years, what people expected then and now etc.
I think the most interesting thing I got from all that was how the view we all had was the British one – which was a sense of loss – but that most of the locals actually seemed glad to be united with China even as they were wary that their freedoms might be taken away. And that so much is different since 10 years ago – the city still looks the same and its capitalist spirit still thrives but the relationship with China is different from what was expected. Hong Kongers have got over their dislike of mainlanders (though they still tend of sniff about them a little) and they are actually learning Mandarin themselves because at heart they are people to whom money counts and they now realise the money is in the mainland. It is the mainland economy that has bolstered Hong Kong’s and in turn, to some extent, mainland cities are modelling themselves on Hong Kong.
Despite having spend most of the weekend (frustratingly) doing nothing except nursing a sore throat, I felt I had to do something to mark the ocassion. V and I went down to Wan Chai to watch the fireworks. The HK government was literally blowing up HK$16 million but the city deserved it. The government has given the city the greatest infrastructure possible, a strong economy and some amount of welfare and so they can well afford to give everyone a treat as well. Unlike in India where the basics are crap and they still undertake extravagant ventures. I do feel a little guilty though when I think of starving poeple who could be fed but I guess one has to enjoy the wealth one has produced sometimes.
And the fireworks were beautiful. They started out a little blah and we were just beginning to get bored when they started firing them from boats in the sea and then it was the most beautiful thing ever. Just showers of starry stuff coming out of the sky – some of them seemed to be getting closer and closer to you. And then they had the noisy ones which really got the crowd going. The finale was great with one rocket after another just exploding and everyone burst into spontaneous applause.
Then was on my way to meet friends in LKF and stepped onto the MTR having been unable to get a cab anywhere, and some Indians who had also been on the pier watching the fireworks smiled at me. We started chatting in just the way Indians do on trains and HKers never do. It turns out one of them is a journo… so we exchanged cards and pledged to keep in touch. Who knows if we will but it was nice to have a spontaneous chat.
And then strangest thing is – one of the friends of friends that I met up with turned out to have lived just in the lane next to me in Bombay. It’s such a bizarrely small world. I keep meeting people who went to school with me or lived down my road in India.
Ended up watching late show of Die Hard. Fun but sleepy!