Hong Kong VIII

Hong Kong vignette no.1: The rising sun cast a marigold tint over the Central District as I leisurely strolled along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. There were few people out at this hour. Joggers made use of the cooler temperature. As well, other sleep-deprived tourists snapped selfies as the neon signage flickered in conclusion to a long night. I paused, taking it all in. At a different time, I would not be afforded the solitude to appreciate the spectacular view I now faced. 

And then, a noise.

The faint sound of music approaching.

As it neared, I recognized the instrumentation and, of course, THE voice. An older woman paused around ten feet from me also to soak in the glorious view of her presumed hometown. On her iPhone, she loudly played Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All". I remained still as well, thinking about how small the world is and how this moment, however pedestrian, would remain near the top of my memories of Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong vignette no. 2: Later in the day, I stood near the entrance to the mid-levels escalator with the intent of taking a picture of this unique urban convenience. As I posited the perfect angle, the siren call of hell's gate opening—or something similar—rumbled. It was loud. It was shrill. It was a tiny, old Cantonese man perched atop the biggest hog I have ever seen in my life as it blasted Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone". The contrast both amused and fascinated me. 

He stopped at the light while everyone in the vicinity stared at him with curiosity and awe. I could tell he enjoyed it. I could tell he was a rock star in his own mind. He revved his motor a few times for the crowd and smiled before driving away. 

"That's how you live life," I thought to myself. 

Chicago Vignette no.1

In retrospect, it may have been a bit later than we should have been out. At least in that part of town. However, I was consumed with other priorities during the day and the only time I could show my friend the windy city's architectural wonders was after dark. We made our way through the seemingly deserted streets where occupants seemed to exist solely in the shadows of night. Naïveté was our virtue. 

"Look over there!" I exclaimed, pointing at a rat scurrying across the sidewalk just in front of us. "There's your big city experience right there."

We walked another block to South State Street when a man on a bicycle bumped into us. Deliberately and with force. He then shouted obscenities and proceeded to accuse us of being on hard drugs. Crack, in particular. An audience of souls blithely waiting at a bus stop nearby continued to be transfixed by their smartphones, clearly avoiding any acknowledgement of the conflict brewing in their midst. Perhaps they had seen it all before...

"Well, this will be interesting" I thought to myself.

Sure enough.

The man, clearly looking to provoke anyone or anything, dismounted his bike and threw it violently to the ground in front of us. The wheels continued to spin as he then paced back-and-forth pounding on his chest with all the bravado he could muster. I knew my friend had taken wen-do but I had no self-defence training. I scanned the area for a storefront that might be open. Perhaps a bodybuilder or two would conveniently be shopping there at this hour.  

We continued to ignore him and the man lost interest as quickly as he started antagonizing us. "There's your big city experience right there" I thought to myself.