Video

Shanghai Kiu Kwen Barbershop

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Between 1940 and 1950, many Shanghainese immigrants carried their capital and skills into Hong Kong. Among them were some Shanghai style barbers who brought a kind of unique service to this new environment.

Shanghai style barbershops have some distinctive characteristics, such as face shaving, nail cutting, and ear cleaning. All of them highlight the ideas of professional, hygienic and enjoyable experience with a customer-first orientation in whole grooming process.

Mr. Gou Dak Tin is the owner of Kiu Kwen Barber shop in North Point, which is the biggest Shanghai style barbershop in Hong Kong. Mr. Gou is sixty-seven years old and came to Hong Kong for living in 1959. He is the third generation in the barber business from the Gou family.

Shanghai style barbershop used to be part of the everyday lives of Hong Kong people, but now it becomes a sunset industry. It faces some challenges such as rising rents, lack of new blood participation, and modern style competitors. The numbers of Shanghai style barbershops are getting less and less in Hong Kong in recent years.

“If you come to Hong Kong five years later, you may find my shop not exist,” said Mr. Gou.

Video

Within arm’s length——puppet artist in Hong Kong

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Wong Fai, a puppet artist in Hong Kong, began to learn puppet when he was 17 years. He immigrated to Hong Kong in the 1970s, and brought the puppet show here as well.

Wong opens up some puppet tutorial courses. People who love this kind of shows will come to learn from him. His students range from eight years old children to eighty years old elderlies coming from home and abroad.

Puppetry is now probably more familiar through television and movies rather than through live performance, but the true essence is lost on the screen. Puppet show is a kind of art within arm’s length. “Within arm’s length” means controlling the puppet with arms in a skillful way. It also means the distance between the performer and audience is very close, unlike some performance high on the stage.

Puppet show used to be very popular in the old days, but now fewer and fewer people have interest on it. “This kind of art is not very promising. But I won’t leave it and will do my best,” said Wong.

Not a Way of Disposing, But a Kind of Concern

Dogs are man’s best friends. They can keep you company for only ten to twenty years, but that might be its whole life. How to give these lovely fellows a dignified farewell to the world? Nowadays there is an emerging industry called “pet’s hospice care” can offer you this kind of service.

There are six such organizations in Hong Kong. Normally the service includes 24-hour collection of pet bodies and refrigeration and disinfection of the body. Pet owners may attend the individual cremation and say the last good-bye to their pets. And then, souvenirs ordering service and pet memento storage service can be provided.

Located in pacific Trade Centre, Pets’ heaven is the largest one of the six pet’s hospice care organizations. They also have branches in Tuen Mun, Yau Ma Tei and Causeway Bay. Cremation urns are placed on the shelves peacefully, with toys and food around.  Except dog, cat, rabbit and bird, there are also some other kinds of animal such as snake, turtle, fish and lizard. Pets’ heaven can offer you a variety of service at different price level, ranging from HKD800-2500. “Some pet owners put the cremation here and come to see it once in a while, but most of them choose to bring it home or scatter it to the sea,” said Kelvin, a staff of Pet’s Heaven.

Pet’s Heaven was established in 1999 by Mr. K. K. Chan. There used to be official animal crematorium in Sai Wan in the past. After the return of Hong Kong to China, the government system was reorganized and many departments were cancelled. In year 1999, the animal crematorium failed to operate any more. As an animal lover, Mr. Chan felt very sad about it, and thought of his experience in Canada. Mr. Chan moved to Canada in 1993, and happened to see a dog of his relative passed away. Then he began to know that there was such kind of pet’s hospice care industry in some foreign countries. Why not introduce this kind of service to Hong Kong? At that time, Mr. Chan had no mature business model to learn from, everything should start from zero. He used his HKD300000 saving as initial capital, and established Pets’ heaven. After 13 years’ hard work, Pets’ Heaven became the largest pet’s hospice care organizations in Hong Kong, and Mr. Chan himself also won many prizes such as the “Ten Creative Entrepreneurs of The Year”.

Pet’s hospice care is not a very profitable industry. Since the number of dead pet is limited, there would not be a big demand in the market. User viscosity is also very low since it is almost impossible to develop a “second order” through good service. According to Mr. Chan, revenue of the four branches of Pets’ Heaven was eight million in total last year, but the profit was only several hundred thousand. The reason was due to a low demand and a high cost, mostly the labor cost and logistic cost. Since the equipments and storeroom will cost a lot, the scale effect is very typical in this industry. The financial situation of Pets’ Heaven is above average level, and many other competitors are still in a struggle. “My original intention is to help those people who lost their loved ones instead of earning money. This remains unchanged,” said Mr. Chan.

There is no special marketing department or promoting strategy of Pets’ heaven. They spent little money on advertising, relying on word of mouth and their website instead. “We want to serve you heart and soul, hoping that you can tell you friends and give us the opportunity to work for them,” said Mr. Chan. Mr. Wong, a dog keeper used to have a cat. The cat died ten years ago and Mr. Wong let a pet hospital to dispose the body. This cost him HKD1000. “I don’t know there is such kind of professional pet’s hospice care service at that time,” said Mr. Wong. But now he has a basic knowledge about it after seeing in the pet forum and searching on the internet. He said he would try it after this dog’s death. 

The Tender Loving Creatures is another pet’s hospice care organization in Hong Kong. It is the third year of the organization and their scale is much smaller than the Pets’ Heaven. “I believe we are still losing money,” said Willie the staff, “since the machine is expensive and it needed to be maintained.” Willie came to work here because he loves animals, and this is also the case of most the staffs who work here. They usually keep pets at home, and can totally understand how it hurt when a pet passed away.

“What we offer is not a way of disposing, but a kind of concern,” said Mr. Chan.

Look How They Shine For You

-By Chingchu Zoo Yuen

“Can you just be quiet for a little while?” I shouted at my cousin Xu, who just gave off a weird gasp again when we sit in front of the TV. It was the seventh time in last ten minutes. What the hell was that?

Xu looked at me silently, with timidity in his eyes. He pushed his fruits bowl to me, and moved a little further. I suddenly felt very regret. It has been a long time since I last saw him, and the summer holiday gave me this opportunity of reunion. But I just messed it up.

I asked my mom what wrong was with Xu the day after. “It’s a kind of illness called Tourette syndrome,” seeing my puzzled face my mom explained, “he would run into a burst of physical or vocal tics and could not control himself.” I was totally astonished.

Xu is three years old younger than me. He followed me everywhere since he learned to walk, just like my shadow. His ceaseless companion repelled me, so I tried to shout him away. Sometimes he was scared by me and run home in tears. But the next day, he would come to my home unsurprisingly, becoming my submissive little follower.

Xu does not have a harmonious family. His parents started to quarrel frequently since his age of six, which might be the main reason for his mental disease. The disease not only made him mocked by classmates because of the weird tics, but also brought him some troubles in focusing on his study. His worsening performance at school made his parents disappointed.

I decided to do something.

I walked to Xu’s home. It seemed to be the hottest day this summers, for the cicadas were too tires to sing. I felt like I was swimming in a bowl of boiling soup. Xu opened the door for me. His dog, Dore gave me a warm welcome and kept licking my hand. “Wait for a minute. I will turn on the air conditioner,” Xu said and disappeared, leaving me alone in the living room. I looked around. Xu’s family moved here not long before, and everything seemed very new.

“Want some water?” he asked politely. I accepted with thank. He disappeared again. Xu has not talked with me since I shouted to him for the weird gasp, so he seemed a little nervous for my uninvited visit.

“How is everything going at school?” after sitting on the sofa, I broke the silence. “Not bad,” Xu answered, “except my poor marks.” What a bad question. I searched in my head about what kids like at my cousin’s age. Toy? No that’s too childish. Book? Maybe something else.

“How is your life in the university?” Xu asked me. I was not ready for that, so I paused for a few seconds. “Just so so, not as good as I imaged.”

The boring dialogue continued for a while. Suddenly Xu looked at his watch and whispered, “Oh it is time for the game.” He turned on the TV and changed to the sports channel, where an NBA game was on. I felt kind of relief. Since I watched basketball game during the high school, watching NBA with Xu was quite an easy task comparatively. Luckily we were on the both side. We cheered for our team’s leading and sighed for the fault. “Garnet is cool!” Xu could not hide his adore. “Yeah he deserves the name of wolf king!” I said sincerely. His face began to shine, giving me the illusion that he was just a healthy boy like anyone else.

The game was over. Xu was totally lighted up. He told me he usually played basketball at school. “I am good at it,” said Xu with proud, “all my classmates like to be on the same team with me.” “Play more basketball,” I replied, “it is good for your health.” Xu seemed to realize my emphasis on health. “Sometimes I just cannot control…to give off those weird noise…” His voice was low, losing his previous vitality. “It’s OK. Your classmates still love you, right?” I hugged him.

I talked with Xu about his disease. I was not good at comforting people, but I still could tell that Xu was grateful and joyful to talk with me. Dore lay asleep between us. His snore made us laugh.

Finally it was time to go. Xu sent me to the door. “May I go to your home and watch TV with you?” Xu asked gingerly.

“Of course,” I was a little surprised, “we can do anything. And if you have any problem on study, just let me know. Don’t forget you have a smart sister.”

“I will,” said Xu, with his face drown in the sunset, shining.

I don’t want to change

 -by Chingchu Zoo Yuen

Carrying her 3-month baby, Mary Peiris landed on the airplane from Sri Lanka to Hong Kong. Waiting for her in Hong Kong is her husband, a human right lawyer who was chased by the government.

“It was a dark night, very dark,” said Mary, “very hard especially for a woman”

Mary is one of those Sri Lankan immigrants in Hong Kong after the civil war. Actually Mary is not her real name. She refused to give her real name and her photo because that will give the government an opportunity to find her. Now all the family members, Mary and her husband and daughter, have got their permanent residency in Hong Kong. Life seems to go back on track, but unlike those immigrants who made their own decisions to go to Hong Kong for a better life, Mary lives here with a little bit reluctance.

Mary came to Hong Kong in 1990 at the age of 39. During that time, the Sri Lanka government is suffering from a civil war. Mary’s husband, who is a human rights lawyer, tried to rescue the criminal in the jail. This action offended the government, so he immigrated to Hong Kong in 1989. Mary came here one year after, with her 3-month baby Jessica. Life was hard at first. Unlike her husband who has social network here and easy to find a job, Mary has no friends and no work here. All she can do is raising her baby at home. She always missed her hometown, wandering she might live happily with her parents and brothers. “Life would be totally different if I did not make the decision to go with him,” said Mary, “but finally I came here. That’s life.”

Living a life like this is like having a battle, but Mary won with her optimistic character. She first served as a volunteer at her daughter’s primary school in the primary one classes for a year. Then she got jobs as a lunch mum and bus mum at the same school. After leaving at 6 and coming home at 9 in the morning, Mary will have a lunch and take the afternoon bus duty. The work finished around 4 pm. No matter how busy the life is, Mary will always go to the church on Sunday morning and pray. It is a place she finds her friends from Sri Lanka. She still likes to communicate with people from her hometown.

When asked about the future, Mary said her main worry is on her daughter Jessica. Jessica has just got her bachelor degree of law in City University, and now applying for a further education in London. “Girls in my hometown are more ‘lady’ like, but Jessica has grown up more and more western like,” said Mary. Sometimes Jessica goes to some parties, drinking and dancing for the whole night. Besides, her attitude towards sex is more open, while in Sri Lanka, woman who is found not a virgin on the wedding night will be throw out of the room. But Mary has also changed a lot herself, seen from her dressing and way of talking. Change is inevitable to everybody, but it may mean something more to Mary. It is a strong signal of being isolated with her family, her hometown, and her origin.

“I am still not regret,” said Mary, “My husband treats me very well, and I hope Jessica can also find a good man and have her own sweet life here.”

Same Thing, Different Reasons

by Chingchu Yuen

When talking about the “5W&1H”, “why” might be the most interesting part. There are so many interesting stories lying in the motivation of everybody. As a student journalist, I am curious about why those successful journalists chose this career. Here are the answers of five HKBU-SOPA Award winners’.

 Mr.Titthara May is a news editor from the Phnom Penh Post. In Cambodia, journalism has no independence because of the control of government and tycoons. Since there is a lack of law protection, journalists may even lost their lives during investigation. Titthara chose this career out of a most profound love for journalism. With a shy smile on the face, you can tell Titthara is not very talkative, but the peaceful looking cannot cover his strong persistence from deep inside.

As foreign journalists working on China’s topic, Mr. Jamil Anderlini and Mr.Michael Forsythe share the same motivation. The excitement about the truth and passion for writing dive them a lot. Besides they regard it a responsibility for them to defend the independence and credibility of journalism, especially while Chinese journalists are not able to do so.

Having seen the recession of news industry, Mr. Ernest Chi’s feeling is more than words. Being the leader of Investigative team, Mr. Chi has disclosed many dark side of the society. He thinks today’s media is getting more and more entertaining, far away from the initial. “But our spirit is still on”, said Mr. Chi, “It’s time for us to go back to the starting point, and do something really helpful to our society.”

For Mr. Thomas Fuller, maybe it is Journalism chose him other than he chose journalism. He never dreamed of becoming a journalist until being inspired by one of his university tutor and a motorcycle tour around the world. He started his job as a travel journalist and found his love for journalism. From then on, he enjoyed his career and could not even stop.

You see, people are doing the same things out of different motivations. Some motivations are long-lasting and profound, while some are just simple and accidental. But you cannot deny that they both did a good job. It is the persistence that really counts. If you have a direction and never give up, I believe that one day you will surely make a difference.

Somewhere I belong

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Sitting in the park, Demmis, a 37-year-old Nigerian, enjoyed his Sunday afternoon as he used to do in hometown. Around him are his wife, a local Hong Kong woman and their two lovely kids.

“Instead of missing my home sentimentally, I focus on establishing my own home right now and right here in HK.” said Demmis.

Demmis is one of the 1400[1] black people who live in Hong Kong, enjoying and suffering from life at the same time. Some call themselves “plants”, trying to stretch their root deep into the ground.

Ten years ago, Demmis came to Hong Kong alone after getting a degree of finance. He started doing business between Nigeria and Hong Kong. After a romantic relationship with his wife who is also a Christian, Demmis found the sense of belonging and decided to stay in Hong Kong for the rest of life. The high quality of life is another reason for him to choose Hong Kong, although the cost of life is getting higher and higher. But being surrounded by people who speak a different language and have different culture makes him feel lonely at times. “This is the real life,” said Demmis, “and you have to face it. God help me a lot. He helps me find my true love and my inner peace.”

In the past, lives for the blacks are much more difficult. They suffered a lot from discrimination. For example, people are not willing to sit next to a black person on the bus, just out of the fear or aversion. Today a growing number of Hong Kong local have changed their mind and begin to treat the blacks equally. According to a survey done by HKUnison[2], among the 1000 Nigerians in Hong Kong, about 300 have married with a local residents. But the survey also implies that over 50% of people are not willing to accept Africans in their personal life, for example, being friends with them or living with them [3]. People have not completely got rid of their stereotype owing to the historical reason and media misleading.

When asking about his future, Demmis is full of confidence. “We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and after dying we are all nothing. I have belief to be accepted by Hong Kong, and create a life of my own.”

[1] http://www.census2011.gov.hk/pdf/EM.pdf

[2] http://www.unison.org.hk/index.php

[3]http://www.unison.org.hk/DocumentDownload/Researches/R201203%20Racial%20Acceptance%20Survey%20Report.pdf?subject=Enquiry%20for%20Research%20hard%20copy

The loss of single child

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Are you the only child in your family? Have you thought about what your parents should do if you died young? In fact, this is not just an assumption, but the real story that is happening in a huge number of families.

Owing to the Family Planning Policy, most of China’s families are not able to have the second child. Some of them put all their love and hope on the child, only to lose him or her in a sudden. In China, we call this kind of family the “Shidu” family, which refers to the family which has lost their single child. According to the data from Health Department, there are more than 1 million Shidu families in China, and the number is added at a speed of 7.3 million per year.

“It is like someone has pushed the mute key of my life”, said the mother of a Shidu family. She lost her daughter in 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Like many other families, they tried to have another child, either by adopting or bearing one. But the stringent rule of adopting slammed the door on them, while their physical condition was not allowed them to give birth to a baby as well. Having a look at the statistical data of Liaoyang city, among the 295 dead people during one month, the age group of above ten years old took up 83.73%. Meanwhile, women’s fertility begins to drop at the age of 27, and the government encourages people to give birth at an older age. This means a slimmer hope for the families to have a child of their own. Even if they were lucky enough to have a baby, it would be a serious problem for the aging parents to bring up the child passionately and affluently.

Once a policy has been put forward, the government should take responsibility for any possible result it may bring about. Sympathy on those Shidu families is far from enough. Many things remain to be done, such as a special endowment insurance system, more mental and health care, and even a change in policy. Just as Zweig’s saying goes, the eternal progress only accepts the desirable part of every system, and throws away those might limit us just like throwing the fruit peel.

 

How much does the media hide from you

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History is decided by the person who wrote it. When reporting the same issue, different newspaper may have quite different voices. Here we take Bo Xilai’s case for example.

Bo’s case was reported by almost every newspaper. I chose two representatives, one is Apple Daily issued in HK, and the other one is China Daily issued in the mainland China. The contrast is very apparent.

Taking up two whole pages, Apple Daily’s report is very eye-catching. Apple Daily got its news from Reuters. It used a title with strong emotion: Bo roared after the life sentence. Several colorful photos are put on the head, including Bo’s facial expression before and after the sentence, the condition of the court, and the circumstance outside the court. The content of report is very complete, including the issue review, trial process, final judgment, and professional comments. Among the comments, there are some sensitive words from foreign media, such as political struggle, government’s control over the court and so on.

Let’s shift our eyes to China Daily, which got its news from Xinhua News Agency. Hidden in a small corner, China Daily used only 1500 words to present this big event. It gave strong support to the court’s trial, and explained the three crimes conducted by Bo in detail. It is worth noting that China Daily did not mention Bo’s decision to appeal against his conviction. Since the second instance will not be conducted under public eyes, we can assume that China Daily want to use this method to conceal the fact.

Besides the differences above, we can see that Apple Daily has a much more relaxed and open attitude towards this event. It not only discussed some serious and profound issues like the Democracy and legal system, but also paid its attention to some interesting details. For example, the phrase “not be accepted” appeared several times in Bo’s trial, leaving Bo’s allegation totally in vain. Many people thought it was unfair and ironical, and made jokes on it. The phrase soon became popular on the internet.

We can learn something from this comparison. As readers, if we only listen to one voice, we will soon lose our independence and judgment. As the media, we should spare no efforts to protect the completeness and accuracy of an event. Truth will not unravel itself, only people with justice and patience deserve it.

Kite, kite, don’t fly away

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I used to think about what a festival means. Is it a tradition, a thing to be celebrated, or just an opportunity to have a break from normal life? This year, the first year in HK, I seem to find the answer.

Planning to return to mainland in several years, I feel like myself like a passenger and HK is a just a station. The red number on calendar showed me the coming of moon festival, shedding some warm light on my life with piles of reading material and crowds of strangers.

I met three friends during the festival. The first one is my new classmate. We went to the Victoria Park by ship, only to find the Lantern Fair was boring and the fire-dragon was over. So we bought two big bottles of water, sitting on the wayside and toast to the moon. At that moment, I feel like I was the combination of a Tang Dynasty poet and a tramp in Brooklyn. It’s cool.

The second one is my junior alumni who came to HK two years ago. It is wonderful when two life tracks reunion just because they make the same decision. We climb up to the Victoria Peak, facing the ocean, and talking about whether we like this city or not. The moon shone above, saving us from almost being melted by the darkness.

The third one is one of my undergraduate classmates who now works in HK. After hearing I have not eaten a moon cake, he sent one to me under the Tropical Cyclone Signal No.3. It was the most delicious moon cake that I have ever eaten.

Moon Festival passed away, ordinarily but meaningfully. When I was 17 years old, I dreamt of the kind of life that wandering around the world and holding nobody and nothing on mind. After several years being away from home and friends, I can’t be brave enough to say it again. I begin to cherish the opportunities that the festival gives us to express our miss and wishes to our loved ones. If I were a kite and my friends and family were the string, then the festival should be the hand that pull the string from time to time, reminding me that it is time to say I love you to them. It’s never too late to realize this.