Canto 101: Three-inch men

Just when you were running out of insults for the short men in your life (there’s only so many times you can call him shortie, lil guy, midget and Willow before he goes numb), here’s another one for ya: three-inch nail (saam chyun deng, 三寸釘 ). 
Yup, leave it to the Cantonese to come up with slang that’s both creative and totally appropriate! Let’s examine the ways in which 3-inch nails are similar to short men: they’re both steely and cold, not quite long enough to be useful, and both can turn out to be complete pricks!
Haha, just kidding… of course that all applies to normal men as well. But, add to the fact that ‘inch’ in Canto also sounds like the word for ‘arrogant,’ and the whole thing starts to make more sense than you think. 
Maybe I’ve got it wrong and three-inch nail is actually an endearing term for vertically challenged men. Anyone out there know? And if so, does that mean that three short men make 9-inch nails? 
\m/ |>_<| \m/

Little Miss Blockhead

There’s a girl in my building whom I just had to immortalize into drawing. I see her maybe once a week, sometimes less, but each time, I’m shocked at how BIG her head is. Not only is it big, it’s also totally block-shaped, thanks to her square jaw and thick, black hair that’s cut and blown in the shape of a box.

Stupid happy blockhead

Sometimes, I’ll see her strutting down the street alone with a big goofy smile on her face, apparently feeling very happy about herself despite not having anyone around (that always creeps me out) but once our eyes meet and she catches me staring, her expression immediately darkens and she casts a glare at me like she wants me dead!

Angry blockhead

I could be wrong, but her glare also seems to say, “What are you staring at, you jealous of what I got?!” It’s downright creepy and I usually divert my eyes right away. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I highly doubt it as my colleague has spotted her before and got “the chills” too. What have I ever done to you, Little Miss Blockhead?

Cockroach CSI: Death by Coffee Drowning

As mentioned before, I am a total cockroach magnet. At my old job, the cockroaches LOVED my corner cubicle and now, we share our tiny SoHo office space with a very fertile family of miniature roaches, who have been spotted anywhere from my desk to the cubicle walls to the secretary’s phone.

Luckily, the mini roaches mostly come out at night when we’ve all gone home for the day, but sometimes the next morning, we’ll find them in the strangest places — like in our coffee mugs. Yup, one morning, I found two dead roaches in the bottom of my coffee mug when I was rinsing it out, and I’m guessing it went a little like this:

Big Roach tells Little Roach how nice it would be to go skinny dipping in a creamy cup of Hong Kong style coffee.

Little Roach struggles to keep afloat in the coffee, while Big Roach relishes in the fact that there’ll soon be one less mouth to feed in the “megaherd” of roaches, meaning more crumbs for him!

Big Roach loses his footing while laughing and slips into the coffee as well, where both of them die a slow and painful death since they are highly caffeinated and do not slip into unconsciousness until about an hour later.

Moral of the story? Roaches should wear slip-resistant footwear when walking on slippery surfaces like coffee mugs. Crocs, take note, you’ve got a new set of customers (with six feet each)!

Banana and peanut lady in Central

I wanted to blog about this old lady in Central over a YEAR ago when I first started working in that area, and thankfully, she is still around for me to blog about today. No offense to her at all but she is probably near 100 years old if not older, and I really hope that she has a lot more years to live!

Located on the corner of Gage Street and Lyndhurst Terrace, the Banana and Peanut Lady is a withering old Chinese woman with sunken-in cheeks and a thin black ponytail. She sells bananas and peanuts next to the fruit stand across 7-11 and is usually there for most of the day. I don’t know why she’s still working as she’s so fragile and petite, but my guess is that she’s been there all her life and likes it(?) or has to do it to sustain herself (in which case we should all give her a little extra for her bananas and peanuts).

She’s usually wearing a traditional two-piece Chinese outfit in all black, and now that the weather’s cooler she has an extra coat on. I also noticed that her thumbnails are super long, as opposed to her pinky fingernails. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to ask her what she’s doing there the next time I pass by… (I know, I’m shy)!

Cockroach CSI: Death by Tobacco

No matter what time of year it is in Hong Kong, you’re likely to see one of the city’s most infamous tenants crawling around: the cockroach. In the summer, they are out in full force, scurrying along sidewalks, climbing up the walls, and sometimes (if you’re unlucky) flying right into your line of sight.

Now that it’s winter though, cockroach sightings are much more rare, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone. In fact, most of the times I see cockroaches these days is when they’re dead. Squished, flattened, stomped on, or worse, have you ever wondered what actually happened right before the cockroach was killed?

Introducing … Cockroach CSI: an investigation into the lives (and death) of our city’s rampant roaches. First up is a cockroach I saw in Wanchai last year, an image that I will never forget as it was such a vivid one.

I was on Jaffe Road right across Joe Bananas when I looked down before crossing the street. And, there, right next to my foot was a dead cockroach on its back, clutching onto a cigarette butt. I kid you not, his six legs were literally wrapped around the cigarette butt!

It’s clear how this cockroach died: death by tobacco. After a long night of partying with the call girls in Wanchai, this roach thought of winding down with a still-lit cigarette butt that landed just a few inches from him. After taking one long puff, he choked to death on all the nicotine, smoke and tar that filled his little lungs. So, the lesson here is, hanging out in Wanchai will kill ya!

Say NO to Butt Munching Pants

I’m no fashionista, but I think I have a pretty good sense of what looks bad on me, and therefore, on other people. And what usually looks bad horrific are BUTT MUNCHING PANTS.

I encountered an extremely active butt munching pant the other day as I was walking behind this woman in the MTR, and I just couldn’t stop myself from staring at her butt. Granted, I’m usually staring at people’s butts (hey, it started in high school) not out of perviness but just because it’s the most interesting and dynamic part of a person’s backside (it’s big, it moves, it usually has a face, etc.), wouldn’t you agree?

So this particular woman’s butt was wearing a pair of what were once baggy, bright blue short shorts — culottes, really, but I doubt anyone really uses that word anymore — and the butt had eaten up most of the excess fabric, chewing it rigorously with each step the woman took. It was really as if it had its own face, mind and identity, and as I stared at it, it stared back at me, munching quicker and quicker whilst jiggling its cheeks.
When I finally snapped out of my trance and managed to look away, I promised myself to never, ever wear butt munching pants. EVER! And so should you.
FYI: Butt munching pants occur when someone’s pants are so far up their ass that it appears that their butt is actually munching on them. Things that can cause this to happen include tight ass pants, extremely thin, silky pants, or sometimes just a big ass booty that hasn’t been fed in a while! (from UrbanDictionary.com

Hong Kong Beggars: Beggar on a buggy

The other day, I was walking along the bridge to Central Pier when I came across a Hong Kong beggar lying face down near the entrance to IFC on the Apple Store side. He seemed “normal” enough: missing both legs, dressed in dark clothing, with disheveled short black hair. As usual, no one took notice, and since I was in a rush to get to The Watermark, I sped walked my way past too.

On my way back though about an hour later, I found myself walking behind a guy in a mini-buggy, which was essentially a motorized red tin box on three wheels, and guess who was driving? The same legless beggar as before!!

Usually, I try not to stare long or do double takes with beggars since it might make them self conscious, but I couldn’t help it when I walked past this beggar on a buggy. Not only was he in possession of a pretty awesome ride, he was also checking text messages on his phone, which despite being a Nokia had a pretty pimpin’ gold keypad.

I walked next to his buggy for a while to see if I could read his text messages (I couldn’t), and to verify if it was in fact the same guy, which I’m pretty sure of since he was missing legs at the same spot as the other guy.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad for him anymore. Could it be, that he is perfectly okay with the way he is? Texting his wife to tell her he’ll be home tonight earlier than usual? Or is he plotting with his pimp where he’ll lie face down to pull at our heart strings next? And … where does he usually hide his buggy? Oh mysteries…

A crotch cabaret at BISOUS

I can’t say I’ve ever seen a burlesque show before, but I definitely had something else in mind than last night’s performance(s) at BISOUS. 
Let’s first clarify that I wasn’t there to see the BISOUS girls at all, but a man called Russell Simmons, aka. the ‘godfather of hip hop’ and founder of Def Jam, who happened to be in town for Diamonds In The Sky, Hong Kong.
The event started out pretty cool with DJ Bravo spinning old skool hip hop tracks with videos projected onto the big screen, but before long, the curtains were drawn and out came the BISOUS gals.
Don’t get me wrong, the girls had great bodies, which is probably good enough for most, but something about the perfectly balanced girl group (1 brunette, 1 blonde, 1 black, 1 asian) just bothered me…
It started with some cheesy lip-synching, followed by an insane amount of crotch-flashing. What made it even more creepy was the overly ecstatic, plastered smiles on the girls’ heavily made up faces. And instead of being subtly seductive like I expected from burlesque dancers, the BISOUS gals strutted around the stage like horny peacocks, making shrill ‘YEOW!’ and ‘WOOPEE!’ sounds as they kicked their legs up behind their ears, did the cartwheels off one another and jumped up and landed in the splits (with a big THUD sound and collective “OUCH!!” from the audience).
During the totally cliche yet obligatory can-can dance, the girls lifted up and waved their frilly skirts around so much that I got tired of seeing all of them crotches, no matter which direction they kicked their legs out to make it look different each time. 
If you happened to miss out on the show, here are a few scenes from it that will forever be etched into my head (and now yours too, unfortunately):

Hope you enjoyed “the show”!!

Canadian vs. Hong Kong beggars

During my trip home recently, I was heckled by a few Canadian beggars and I couldn’t help but notice the differences between them and the ones here in Hong Kong.
While Hong Kong beggars get loads of pity points for missing limbs, charred skin or self-mutilation tactics, I hardly ever see anyone stopping to give them money, let alone a second glance. 
On the other hand, Canadian beggars seem to be quite good at getting us to notice them and emptying our pockets. Wondering why this was the case, I came up with three things that Hong Kong beggars could learn from the Canadians to up their daily income: 
1) Be friendly
So I was walking by a liquor store in downtown one night, and a beggar standing outside saw me shivering and asked, “Aww, are you cold?!” I didn’t dare answer him nor make eye contact since a) he was a stranger and b) it was late at night, but as I quickened my pace to get away from him, he shouted after me, “Oh well, Happy Monday!!” 
Of course, I felt horrible for running away from such a “nice guy” and it’s not only him — it’s exactly the same when you come across squeegee boys at a stoplight and tell them that you don’t want your freakin’ windshields washed (by a dirty bum like you), only to be told, “Alright, no worries, have a nice day!” So even if you don’t end up giving them any money right then, you’re more likely to do so the next time you encounter a bum thanks to the cumulative guilt trip you’ve built up. 
2) Be apologetic
While typical beggars hold up selfish signs like “Please Give” or “Help Me I’m Broke,” the ones I saw in Canada amused me with their honest and apologetic messages. Case in point — one beggar held up the following sign:

Genius, isn’t it?! By adding the “I am sorry,” the person passing by goes from thinking, ‘Go get a job, you selfish bum’ to ‘Oh well, since you’re sorry, I guess it’s not your fault, here’s some change, ya poor thing’.

3) Be honest, kind of, not really
Lastly, I came across another beggar in downtown who was just sitting on his a wad of newspaper outside of a 7-11. Next to him was a suitcase with a cane sticking out of it, and he was busy doing Soduku or crosswords (or whatever it was, he was completely enthralled with it.)

In front of him, a little tent card read, “Facing eviction. If you CHOOSE to give … thank you. NOT for drugs or alcohol.” That was enough to get me to give him a toonie ($2), since it’s the least I could do to help keep a fellow Canadian off the streets.

OK, so whether he was telling the truth or not isn’t really the point. The point is that his sign worked, so maybe the real lesson here is — Hong Kong beggars should use signs…and instead of begging for money using the shock factor, they should just write down what they want from us, like:

  • “1 Big Mac, Not for pimp”
  • “Need bowl of ramen, I am sorry”
  • “I want BBQ pork, Have a nice day”

With signs like these, how could anyone (with a heart) say no?