City upset at lack of devastation


Hong Kong freaks out over the fact that no storm followed yesterday’s Number 8 typhoon signal. I don’t have the statistics at hand, but I would guess around one in three Number 8 signals heralds nothing worse than blustery showers. Has everyone forgotten this, or are we just looking for something to whine about?

The afternoon timing of the Number 8 – just when people are day-dreaming about going home from work – was optimum for some serious transport congestion. But again, experience tells us it doesn’t have to be this way. Most non-village/-island residents can afford to wait a while rather than instantly all swamp the buses and trains. (Back in the old days, I remember that my company had a chivalric if unofficial ‘women and children first’ typhoon code: staff with dependents to look after would head back home, while the single males among us would bravely and nobly sacrifice the opportunity and seek refuge from the storm in Lan Kwai Fong, for however long it took to avoid being a burden on the transport system.)

Then there’s the clearing-supermarket-shelves thing. Not sure how you squeeze that into the standing-for-hours-at-bus-stop, must-get-home-now emergency routine – maybe people send the maid or an in-law. Millions of families must be feeling a bit foolish this morning, looking at the three-month stockpile of spongy bread rolls, canned tuna and instant noodles they plundered yesterday. Since even the most deadly 1960s-era typhoon etched into communal memory will shut the city down for more than 24 hours, panic-buying food after the Number 8 goes up is illogical. But again, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, 7 million people just calmly go home and hope for a day off; other times, 7 million people stampede into Park N Shop and grab everything in sight.

That’s partly Hong Kong’s herd instinct at work – the same kiasu-related impulse that has thousands of people clamouring for Snoopy dolls from McDonald’s without pausing to consider why.  But, I suspect, it is also connected with how frazzled the community has been in the days immediately leading up to the hoisting of the Number 8 signal. This has been a week of fear and doom, with the Mainland and local stock markets plunging and Beijing’s mandate of heaven looking just a tad iffy. At times like this, Hong Kong needs to panic over something to get the anxiety out of its system. We’ll be better next week.

I declare the weekend open with commiserations (or just pity) for the breathless, leering pink-lacy-lingerie-fetishists at the Standard, whose pervy photo of a young lady’s skirt flying up reveals panties of a gruesome and anticlimactic, convent-issue gray…



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5 Responses to City upset at lack of devastation

  1. gweiloeye says:

    I work from home most days. but i still take the liberty (and smug satisfaction) of setting up my email ‘out of office’ due to possible end of humanity as we know it. May forever it remain so.

  2. Scotty Dotty says:

    Anyone noticed there hasn’t really been a big typhoon since the names switched from gweilo style to Asian names? Coincidence, I think not.

    All we have had in recent times is (from Korea) Typhoon Itchykrak and (from Thailand) Typhoon Patpong (admittedly that was a big blow).

  3. Knownot says:

    “how frazzled the community has been … a week of fear and doom”

    Why did the PLA decide
    To go to Tuen Mun’s pleasant country-side
    This week, and in those peaceful hills
    Conduct their military drills?
    Amphibious vehicles boldly seek
    Secessionists on Castle Peak.
    Every bomb and bullet, each grenade,
    What a din it made!
    Oh, why am I afraid?

    It’s easy when the markets soar:
    I win and then, again, I score.
    My patriot emotions swell
    And I get rich as well.
    Friendly brokers, freely lending
    For the bull run. Never ending,
    Never failing – till it dropped.
    This week, it seemed my heart stopped.
    I’d been dazzled.
    Oh, why am I so frazzled?

    Number 3, no, Number 8!
    My heart knocks at a panic rate.
    Quickly, catch that bus or train.
    Get home, before the wind and rain
    Lash the windows, batter the door,
    While we cower on the floor.
    Grab some noodles, hunt for meat;
    My desperate children have to eat.
    Home I hurried.
    Oh, why was I so worried?

  4. Turning Japanese says:

    “Convent-issue gray panties”.
    Much of the day has been spent pondering those words and THAT picture.
    Many thanks.


  5. For some reason the picture in question was omitted from the online version of the story.

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