I spent last week in Hong Kong, staying with my sister, brother in law and their little boy.
In the air between Sydney and Hong Kong, a lady in formal attire approached me,
‘Excuse me, Mr. Hodgkins?’.
At this point I noticed she wasn’t one of the regular flight attendants, but dressed in a suit, like a flight official or something.
‘Are you aware that you do not have your passport?’
I am that guy. That guy that somehow leaves his passport at Sydney airport before boarding a flight out of the country. As much as I don’t want that to be a part of my identity, it is and I sometimes struggle to admit it to myself. I am generally bothered more about what others will think of me, than than the actual problem of obtaining my passport. That was my real grievance. I think even writing this blog helps me not to repress the memory.
Fortunately for me, Cathay Pacific were able to whack it on the next flight over, and I just had to wait on this side of immigration until it arrived, about two hours later.
I’ve been to a handful of busy cities, but Hong Kong takes the cake. I mean, the busy-city cake. The density of the population here is ridiculous, I’ve never seen so many people in one place! Every day, hot and humid. So many people hustling and even more people bustling.
I met a Pakistani man named Sam, who was selling suits on the busy sidewalk. He was lovely to speak to, and once I convinced him I wasn’t going to buy anything from him, he asked for his portrait to be taken. It is a good memory for me. A glimpse of humanity in a dense space of bodies and strangers.
Over the last few days, I’ve been on struggle street just walking down to the mango juice shop, but it wasn’t until Tuesday night that I really hit the wall. I mean, the sweat and heavy-breathing wall. My brother and I had broken a notable sweat catching the train to the artificial pitches in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island, but two minutes into the game and I was buckled over on my haunches. I’m not exactly in fit shape, but I was an immediate mess. The hot and visible car exhaust air was physically and psychologically exhausting. I have never played football at such a picturesque location though! I didn’t take my camera, but I will attach my favourite google images photo below. It will have to suffice!
Despite its uncomfortabilities, I have really enjoyed strolling the busy city of Hong Kong. I love walking through a city, observing people and marvelling at architecture. Last semester at uni, I learnt of the ‘flaneur’, and I think about it now every time I am in a city. A concept most famously explored by Baudelaire in the 1860’s, the flaneur is a pedestrian with no purpose or destination, observing, whilst remaining outside the working machine of capitalist production that the modern city is.
This identity goes hand in hand with photography for me. The shapes and lines of the urban space create their own frames. The symmetry of glass and steel, brick and stone.
Next week, Korea.
Happy Valley image credit: picdn.net