Monday, July 18, 2011

Of coming back to an exotic home.

It has been a while! Since my updates have been sparse, I had assumed that the number of visitors to my blog has also dropped significantly. But it seems there have still been quite a few poor souls who had the misfortune of coming across this mass of dark matter that I had left adrift in cyberspace. I apologize for it raining on anybody's sunny day. I intend to blog more often from here on, and hopefully on happier matters as to not upset any more innocent readers.

Just kidding, like I would do that for anyone. I really will try to blog more often though.

In any case, having officially graduated from university since June, I moved out of Montreal in May and paid a short visit back to Vancouver before leaving for where I am currently residing: Hong Kong. I suppose I've never given a proper overview of my personal history, but generally, I was born in Hong Kong but moved to Vancouver at the age of 4, having lived there ever since. I came to Hong Kong every few years for "vacation" (also known as "visiting the relatives and showing that you remember their existence as by Chinese tradition"), but I don't think I've ever stayed here for over 3 weeks at a time. I am now close to having lived here in Hong Kong for two months. It's definitely a record!

Having said that though, I also have to say that I've been terribly homesick for Canada. Hong Kong is a very vibrant and urban place to be; but of course, those are just euphemisms for "noisy", "overcrowded", "artificial". Certainly the number of shopping centers and food options is incredible, perfect for the typical, materialistic tourist looking to replenish their closet. But having lived here for more than a few weeks, I think what I've been craving for a lot lately is just open space, some fresh air, and a more natural landscape. I want a place where I don't have to push through crowds, hear bits of conversation from people I don't know, or feel like I need to pay so I can buy some time to sit at a place that's not my own home (through a cup of coffee)--and even then, they want to get you out of your spot ASAP since you're a hindrance to them profiting from more business. Of course, the heat and humidity during the ridiculously hot summer here doesn't do much to improve my mood.

The urban solitude here drives me insane. The infinite masses of people, the tall buildings, the concrete, the gray, the dullness--it's so stifling, I feel so suffocated on some days. What I would give to lie in a huge, grassy field on a refreshing day with a book in my hand.

And of course, there are cultural differences as well that make me feel incredibly out of place. I've been meeting up with friends that are visiting Hong Kong for vacation or for the summer, but to talk to someone who grew up in Hong Kong and actually lives here, it's a real challenge for me. I don't think I can have an honest conversation with them all that often on topics that I actually care about. Topics not about television shows, brand names, new shops that have opened, movies out this summer… that is not to say that those aren't fun to talk about once in a while, but conversations that consist only of this kind of superficiality really depress me. Of course, even if there are people who like to talk about music and literature, it would be in Chinese and wouldn't extend as far as English literature.

But these are cultural differences; interests vary depending on what kind of environment one grows up in or what kind of people one interacts with. I don't think I'd mind superficiality if I could actually enjoy it without feeling depressed. I think it would be kind of nice to be entertained by simple things and feed off of society like I'm supposed to. This might not entirely be an issue of experiencing culture shock even, just that all these social mechanics that I don't agree with in general manifest themselves more in Hong Kong, where I see things with more critical eyes since I'm in an unfamiliar setting yet people interact with me like I'm one of them. Again, it's that feeling where I know I'm supposed to belong since I'm from Hong Kong; I've been here many times and I speak the language, yet I'm just not quite there. Quite far, actually. That kind of awkward distance is uncomfortable.

But despite having voiced all this negativity, I think I really want to understand Hong Kong--not as a tourist but as a member of it, as temporary as that may turn out to be. There are so many people here, so dense in such a small space, that I wonder how people can actually have a desire to stay here for the rest of their lives. I'm not only talking about people who grew up here; I have seen foreigners here that have willingly decided to move and live in Hong Kong. From seeing that, I want to believe that Hong Kong is not an empty shell of concrete but that there is something profound in this kind of busy lifestyle, something behind the mechanicalness that I have yet to learn to appreciate.

I guess I am just especially bad at adapting. Change has always been one of my biggest fears, but usually my curiosity and constant restlessness overpowers my fear for change. Maybe I'm fortunate in that sense, but it creates another mass of confusion in my thoughts. I say I want to try but I complain all the while trying--I suppose that's yet another aspect that I need to improve on. But since I'm here already, I want to make experiences that will eventually turn into memories I can look back on and say, "Ah, I was so stupid but I'm glad I was given that kind of opportunity to get over myself." After all, not being able to understand and accept differences is a kind of conceit, and I seriously need to rid myself of it.

What was it that I said a few entries ago, that I wanted to truly love the world? I really do.

No comments:

Post a Comment