Victim of my success
When I landed for the first time in April I resolved to merge into the crowd hiding my identity as a banana. I failed miserably, could it be the slow motions, the slightly off Cantonese intonation, the lack of vernacular or flamboyant fashion sense or all the above. Whatever the giveaway, I stuck out like a poodle in the Amazon jungle.
At every turn I was scolded or given dirty looks for getting in the way or getting on and off minibuses or taxis too slowly, taking too long to get cash out of my purse, choosing my meal, not wolfing it down quick enough … I think you get the gist.
Not fair skinned enough and therefore an easy target every time I try to creep past the pirahanas stationed at the doors, refusing to let me go unless I purchase one of their extortionate whitening products. I have no wish whatsoever to become a fair maiden; on the contrary I am rather proud of my naturally tanned complexion. It exudes health and is the envy of every Westerner I know, but oh you are living in HK now and here fair rules supreme. It is a symbol of beauty, the fairer the better. How on earth can you get a good husband with a dark complexion like that? Ah, actually I am not looking for one. I tried that once and it didn’t end well. Oh, you are only saying that now, you haven’t met Mr. Right yet. Now come in and I will show you the best stuff, on sale now, you so lucky, half price, now only $500, from South Korea you know …
I digress. Now at the end of the year, a mere eight months later I am proud to announce it’s Mission Impossible Accomplished. Tom Cruise eat your heart out! I find myself jumping on and off minibuses at the speed of lightening like 007, overtaking the slowcoaches on the streets and feeling irritated, seamlessly joining the heavy human traffic at the MTR stations and ordering my meal without hesitation, shovelling it in and paying promptly with the exact money.
I have even succumbed to dying my hair to hide the grey, a first and going to have a facial once a week. Apparently all these are common practices in HK, one must keep up appearances and looking young and beautiful is a priority. One must make time in our busy schedules. Do you know that attractive and slim people are more likely to get the job and promotion? That is what research shows
I have the shopping trolley which everyone seems to pull around. The Chinese are very practical, never mind that it doesn’t look very cool. Back in the UK only the elderly use them. More importantly I have the Samsung mobile and can now go online on the move and Whatsapp. I have a hundred million umbrellas, necessary for fair and foul weather. I have the plastic waterproof shoes and wellington boots.
I have trained myself to be less ‘nice’. It is cut throat here, you have to be quick and alert, it’s warfare. The fastest gets the last minibus seat despite the queue. When you dare to complain you are just rebuffed for not being quick enough, it is your fault. But that is not the point, you reply exasperated and you get the look of pity, like ha, what planet are you from? Now I don’t jump the queue but make damn sure I get on when it is my turn. Definitely survival of the fittest in the Pearl of the Orient and that means SPEED.
I am not sure if this transformation and integration is all positive but what the hell, at least I have made myself less of a target for unscrupulous sales assistants and merge into the crowd which is what I wanted.