Life in the Mall

Hong Kong, China

“The first thing you need to understand,” said the long-time Hong Kong resident, “is that you have an incredible density of population confined to a very small space. Think of Hong Kong as an expensive labour camp, where everything is extraordinarily pricey, especially space. For example, I recently gave an employee a television, and he returned it because he didn’t have enough room for it in his apartment.

The result is, there is no ‘outside’ here. It’s like living in a shopping mall. You may work on one floor, have your clubs on another, and live on yet another. You move around a bit, but you never experience the outside. You never feel the sun. For the most part, life is about lots of work, lots of shopping, and lots of dining out.

And physical change is not the only thing you would notice if you lived here. I’ll give you an example. A colleague called me up and asked me if I would be the Godfather to his new son.

I said, ‘I’d be delighted, but what religion are you raising your child in?’

He replied, ‘I don’t know. I’ll check and get back to you.’ It was as if he needed to check for his OHIP number.”

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