GBA Lifestyle News
By Yannie Chan | March 1st, 2016

Three random thoughts from a Hong Kong millennial.

1. My liberal family

I have a very liberal family. The recent New Territories East by-election was never a source of disagreement in my household, where my mom even shocked me a little by backing localist candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei. It is great when your parents are as disgusted as you are at the idea of a pro-establishment lawmaker winning the seat. They were major Occupy supporters, and hated our current SAR head almost more than I did.

Is it something in our blood? Because my grandma shares the same radical streak. She’s usually a gentle person who wants me to eat all the available food in her house, but when CY shows up on screen she throws out the most horrible Cantonese swear words.

Mostly, it’s very cool, but also kind of not, because I never got to play the rebellious, rule-breaking teenager. My dad is the one who showed me my first X-rated movie, and told me there was nothing to be embarrassed about nude or sex scenes (UGH DAD).

My mom encouraged me to try smoking to get a taste of what it was like, and never reacted badly when I returned home way past midnight. My struggle growing up? How to be cooler than my parents. I still haven’t cracked it.

2. A claypot rice love story

On a chilly winter night, after 40 minutes of standing in the wind, a couple in their early 30s sat down inside a warm Yau Ma Tei restaurant that specializes in claypot rice. They began the sacred ritual of eating the Cantonese dish.

The man opened the smoking lid, and the woman squeezed a bottle of soy sauce over the rice. The man was holding his chopsticks in anticipation, and I heard the woman squeal: “This smells YUM!”

When she reached across the table to add soy sauce to her boyfriend’s claypot, she accidentally squeezed A LOT of the dark liquid onto the man’s white top and khaki pants. He jerked backwards and let out a cry.

The happy atmosphere was shattered in an instant. Sitting in the next table, my sister and I froze. The woman froze. The man furrowed his eyebrows and examined the large, dark sticky patches on his clothes. We were all waiting for his response.

Anti-climatically, the man relaxed his face, grabbed a paper tissue nearby, and began to wipe off the soy sauce patches. He told the woman it was all right, don’t be sorry. It took a while for the tension to dissipate, but it did, while they dug into their claypot rice and resumed chatting.

I was pretty impressed, considering that he had the dark, pungent liquid all over him. I was also rather amused, because it’s official — surviving major soy sauce spills is a LEGIT Hong Kong dating milestone.

3. What I’m reading

Facebook’s new “Reactions” faces ignore syntax completely:

“What do those words have in common? Not a lot, actually. To a grammar purist, that’s annoying. ‘These words are in radically different categories,’ says Geoff Pullum, a linguist at the University of Edinburgh and contributor to the blog Language Log. ‘It looks like syntax is being thrown out the window here and being replaced by grunts like animals would make.’”