House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Being Home

Where to begin.

Last Summer I wrote of how refreshing it was to be back in the UK ( see Hug A What Now?) & oh my, it was.  

But, to get my feet back on to, or into, the place, where I truly belong, well, there ain't nothing like it.

Whilst I am at home in the UK, HK IS Home. Not home (with a small 'h') right now, but Home.  

It is a cruel twist that in order to know where you belong, you have to leave it.

Also, after more than 20 years of living as one kind of Expat or another, I realise that you also don't have to live in a place to be part of it, or it you.   Like Family.  

This place speaks to me.
The sounds of the pneumatic drills, the unique roar of taxis, the double-deckers & mini-buses, the smells of food on the air, markets, the inside of IFC (never has a Mall smelt so good! If anyone can tell me what that is, I want my house to smell like that!).  

Me, I find the sounds of HongKong life comforting. Soothing.  

I can hear Hong Kong. HK speaks to me. Maybe because I am listening.
It isn't always pleasant, but I don't have to love everything about it, to love It. I understand it. The understandable bits. The bits I don't understand, I doubt any one else does either.  
And, it understands me.  I am a genuine Made In HongKong.

You either love Hong Kong, or you hate it.
Marmite Town.

AND, in a typically 1 Country 2 Systems, East Meets West, Yin Yang (yes, all the cliches) way, that thing that people love about it, others hate.  

Those that love it, call It Energy, Drive, Can (& DO), those that hate it use words like 'frenetic, rat race, materialistic, superficial'.  

Yes. It cannot be denied there is that, alot of that.

But also, I see the Colour, Life, Attitude (sometimes THAT could be dialled down) & richness (cultural, not $$).  

Some lament a lack of culture in this town. I am not sure to what they refer. Swanky art galleries? Chamber orchestras? Theatre? Seems no shortage to me.  

The culture I see all around is real living, joss stick burning, social media savvy, pop culture evolving, stuff.
The Old Ones observing the old ways, The Young Ones looking like they aren't but are, if you really look.  

Many superstitions and folk traditions are so entrenched, I fail to see HOW anyone can really think this town is devoid of culture.

The rules, the structure, the efficiency, whether it be bureaucratic interactions, public transport, eating out or the bill-paying etiquette. All frustrating and comforting, in equal measure.  

Everywhere has its contrasts but here, I seem particularly aware.  You can boggle at a HK$395, 000 watch in Central and, within a 20 min MTR journey, settle down to a DaiPaiDong dinner (street side restaurant) amongst a night market of knock-off 'back' massagers and handbags.

Coming Home for these visits are a lifeline. An anchor for the soul.

It knocks the scab that forms over our united homesickness but it is worth it.

I am blessed to have found someone who holds MarmiteTown as dear to his heart as I. He understands and loves the slightly off-the-wall childishness combined with the cynicism and confidence that eons of history both gifts and curses the collective psyche.  

We return to a room that has been mine since I was 7, and now, my nearly-7 year old sleeps next door.  We pilgrimage to roads where Trousers and I have individual & shared personal histories dating back to Miami Vice & Madonna hairstyles days. And beyond.  

But, we are not as unique as we once thought, for Hong Kong appears to have spawned a unique tribe. One that only fairly recently I have been aware.

The Tribe is made up of people who never really leave. They, physically, might but they never really let go completely.
They are the ones for whom HK has burrowed deep under their skin, set up home and refuses to ever leave.
A squatter. That demands to be heard.
A squatter, with rights. That will not be ignored

I stand to be corrected but I wonder if other countries have FaceBook groups titled 'I lived in xxxxxxxxxxxxx in the 70's' or 'xxxxxxxxxxxxx Was / Is/ Will Always Be My Home' etc.  

There are many of us. And the Tribe grows.

For now though, Me & He live somewhere else. Life is good there. We are glad of all the blessings it brings. For now.

One day though, we will run home.
And we will finally Belong again.


  1. i cannot tell you enough... how MUCH I want a nice bowl of hot steamy noodle soup right now..... so so so hungry.... so so so craving it. :)

  2. Wow this blog makes me really want to see and experience HK. I've never been but everyone I know who has been has only praise (ok except for a friend (a snotty Dubai expat) who said it was too dirty and crowded). I think i'll focus my next holiday to smelling and feeling the culture of HK ;)



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