Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunday in a Public Housing Estate

In a public housing estate in Shatin, a group of older men are standing around. They are reading newspapers and engaged in a rigorous discussion.

Upon a closer look, it seems that the focus of attention is the betting on the horse races that afternoon. This is confirmed by the newspapers that they are reading. Analyses and odds on the races are major sections in all the newspapers in Hong Kong. Not just the tabloids, but also the more “serious” newspapers. Inside and outside Off Course Betting Centers, big crowds congregate. Mostly men, but also some women and young people.

Some men are playing Chinese chess. I like watching them too. But not all of these games are as innocent as they look. I have seen hundreds of dollars changing hands at the end of a game. I cannot remember seeing women playing these games, however.

The smokers are also mostly men. I bet this man is also a better, because of the newspaper in his pocket. He is smoking to while away the time waiting for the result of the race.

Women are more likely to be chatting.

Or feeding their babies. Or watching their children play. Or buying groceries. ...

There is a significant number of South Asians, even in Shatin. This group seem to be in a good mood, hurrying somewhere. Many of them are actually born and raised in Hong Kong. But they remain almost invisible, and find it difficult to integrate into the society.

The seat cushions of the bus drivers being aired on the guard rails make an interesting picture. The roughly 10,000 bus drivers in Hong Kong are critical to the smooth running of the community. Except for the rich - who live in a different world - of course.

Lots of birds are making a racket in the trees. I enjoy it, because I am just passing by. The people who live here may not think that way, however.

Still, a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

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