When in Rome do as the Romans do. That’s what they say. It’s an invitation to be polite and to abide by the customs of the local culture. Does it apply to Hong Kong? Do I, as a visiting expat, do as Hongkongers do? Do I behave like them? Do I conform to the prevailing opinion of larger society? Do I respect local practices? Is it possible I’ve picked up the attitudes, values or beliefs of locals just by living here over the last few years? God, I fucking hope not. I’d rather be trapped up to my nose in some Roman septic tank shit facility than synchronize my watch to the deplorable practices of these shallow, selfish assholes.
Yeah, I’ll eat a dim sum. I’ll snarl the meat off a chicken wing to ‘fit in’ if I have to. But I won’t spit saliva covered bones onto the tablecloth in full view of other guests when I’m at a wedding. And I won’t lose my fucking mind at the mere mention of chicken wings either. The locals do. They suck chicken wings like lollipops. They dance around like Santa is coming if you mention chicken wings.
A comprehensive list might break the internet so here’s a very short list of some of the things I won’t do…when in Rome…
– I don’t care how drunk I am…I still refuse to burp and fart audibly at work. It’s just not right.
– I won’t take pictures of food or pose for photos where I’m shoveling food into my mouth. The locals love this. If you’re going to take pictures of food, honour the cycle…get some shots of giant coilers floating in your toilet bowl too.
– There’s too many self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ in Hong Kong. A self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ is on par with someone who takes scatmunching ‘selfies’. A moron. And there’s a lot of them in Hong Kong. Hongkongers never, ever stop talking about food. Yeah, food. I get it. Shut the fuck up.
– I’ll never assemble my friends together and take photos where we all simultaneously jump into the air with huge shit-eating grins so it looks like we’re floating above the surface of the earth, high on life. You’d think this practice would be limited to 14yo girls in Hong Kong. But it’s not. Everyone does it.
– I won’t travel overseas as part of a Hong Kong tour group, listening to some tour guide chew my ear off with a microphone and loudspeaker every waking second of the trip. I did that once and nearly committed suicide.
– I won’t invite someone to a workmate’s wedding 2 weeks into their working contract in Hong Kong…and then hold my hand out for an $800 ‘wedding gift’. I thought you were inviting me as a kind gesture…a measure of your goodwill and generosity. Having only just touched down in Hong Kong, and not knowing the bride or groom from a hole in the wall, I kind of thought you were letting me tag along as some kind of cultural experience for the new guy…you know…to show me how humble, down to earth and friendly you all are in Hong Kong. You really slapped that innocent assumption off my face with the entrance fee you artless fuck.
– I won’t explain cheerily to my workmate that I am going on a trip to Korea over Christmas and am flying Air India because the flight is cheap…and then say, with complete sincerity…I hope the plane doesn’t stink.
– I won’t suppress anger, critical thought, empathy or my own opinions because I’m terrified of losing face or being ridiculed for stepping outside of the group think bubble.
– I won’t blindly worship the value of education or allow the future of life itself to hinge on the ability of conman celebrity tutors to get a high school kid a slightly better paying customer service job than the next kid.
– I won’t buy a slave and arrive at work every day of my life with a ‘lunchbox’ prepared by said slave then sit down and eat it like a pampered 2 year old. I won’t have the gall to refer to my slave as a ‘helper’. I won’t torture my slave. I won’t produce TV ads where locals dress in ‘blackface’ to portray clumsy Filipina ‘maids’.
I dunno, I could go on and on and on. You can read a massive laundry list of all this kind of shit here. About the only thing I will do ‘when in Hong Kong’ is walk in a straight line without budging or moving out of the way of others. Now there’s a Hong Kong custom I’ve really come to embrace. That’s how they do it here…and I’m happy to oblige. Not going to move? You oblivious ignorant fuck! Me either then. Collision course is a go…only difference is I’m ready for it. 😉