In one night, I saw two opposing behaviour of HK locals. While one was a typical selfish "It's not my problem so I am not obliged to help you" attitude , the other was a more surprising open consideration for others, in a much unexpected way.
The first incident unfolds in a popular super crowded dessert store in Causeway Bay, located just behind Times Square. This place is seriously packed with unending crowd from dinner time onwards till late. It isnt surprising to find a mob of people milling around, just waiting to be seated. We got lucky that night to catch a 2 min break without anyone fighting for a seat. After we had settled ourselves comfortably in a somewhat secluded tight corner, another young couple joined us.
Just as I was about to dive into the pleasure of my warm walnut paste, I was cringing inside when I heard the couple's order of the Durian pancake. Durian is definitely one of the rare fruits that I dislike, primarily of the smell than the texture. Its pungent smell is somewhat rather unbearable (and seriously, I still dont get what has it got to do with "You are so not chinese" association just because I hate the smell.)
Anyway, I wasnt sure if my horror shone through or due to the fact that my partner and I were conversing in English throughout, but when the pancake arrived, the young couple just stared at it for a while without touching it. I was mentally preparing myself, and all ready to brave the assault of the "odor" while wolfing down my own hot dessert in break-neck speed. Yet, the wrapped durian pancake remained solidly untouched. Seconds later, I heard (its too hard not to hear someone seated half arm's length away from you) the guy softly commenting that the smell will be overwhelming and perhaps they should try to take it outside to sample the durian pancake. Surprised on my part is understatement. The guy craned his neck and realised that it was impossible because the mob of waiting crowd was back. The girlfriend tugged at his sleeves and the guy again told her "the smell is really too powerful...it prob will affect them..(pointedly referin to us).
As I digest this unexpected consideration (while still gulping down my dessert in fear of the durian pancake patiently waiting to attack my olfactory system), a sense of gratitude well up inside me. I figured if they didnt want to ruin my dessert, I could return the favor by scooting out as fast as I could so that they can start on their dessert too. They didnt have to nor oblige to worry about the durian smell but they did. It was a refreshing experience. My partner commented "there is hope for HK if more young people are like that"
We boarded the mini-van and caught the last few seat. We were still relishing the memories of the earlier incident when the 2nd ugly incident took place. 2 young girls also managed to board the bus just after us. The girl who stepped in last continued to stand by the door as the vehicle moved off. It was a little strange since no standing is allowed on any mini-van. Her friend seated at the rear asked aloud "why aren't you sitting? there is a seat in front." The standing girl replied in Cantonese "There is a child in that seat." Ok this is a problem since she had paid for the fare, the van is moving.
Any decent mother with a meagre amount of sympathy, could have carried the child to sit on her lap and offer the seat, or alternatively inched the son closer so that 3 of them could share the double seat. But NOoooo, this HK woman obviously prefer to play deaf and dumb, and just looked out of the window since she figured it was not her problem, and she had paid full fare for her child.
Granted that the mum was NOT obliged to share the seat, but wont any decent adult in any civilised society try to help another fellow citizen in need? Plus it wont be a long journey, it's 5mins ride tops. I was fairly disgusted by the sense of selfishness in this HK mother. What a fine example she is setting for her 7-8yr old son. To be selfish, to care only for yourself, and to ignore someone else in distress even if they are standing next to you and you actually could offer some assistance which wont cost you too much.
The next surprising thing happened. The Filipino helper who was seated in the single seat by the door told the girl warmly "Hey come come, share my seat." The woman (who isnt skinny) tried to squeeze herself closer to the window and managed to spare like a tiny spot at the corner of the seat. The HK girl who was standing was surprised and prob felt bad because it really wasnt much space but the Filipino was really trying. Due to safety reason, and also the persistent warm invitation with a smile from the Filipino, the HK girl sat down. All these while, the HK mother just continued to stare out of the window silently pretending she was still deaf. Every one in the van smiled and I heaved a sigh of relief for the girl.
Just 2 mins later, someone alighted and the girl was able to secure her own seat. Since I was seated behind the HK mother, I could sense her visible relaxation and now that she wasnt in the spotlight anymore, she let go of her son (whom she was hugging all these time) and started to look around smugly and chit chatting with her child as if nothing earlier had happened. Her son, who is now free from his mother's clutches popped his head to look around him.
My partner and I of course werent impressed with such parental upbringing and blatant disregard for someone else in need. I had seen similar occasions before where someone was left stranded without a seat as they couldnt see the small child, and everytime, the accompanying adult (mainly hired helper or Caucasians) will always share the seat or have the child give up the seat. So this was really the first time I had witnessed a local HK acting so selfishly. Naturally this is to be expected of course, I wont put it past any HK person to first preserve their own self interest at the expense of another being. Yet with parents as such, its not difficult to imagine what kind of an adult the son will end up being.
I certainly wish Hk or any part of Asia will be filled with adults like the guy from the dessert store. Thoughtful, considerate in the least expected kind of way. It will be a tall order for a society like HK where its "Dog eat dog" mentality...still one can hope and dream.