Friday, 20 November 2015

Snapshots from... Hong Kong

By JJ Marsh

In our regular series, international writers share some snapshots from their part of the world. This issue, Tim Gurung invites us to look around the island of Hong Kong.

What’s so great about Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is the one and only place in China where we have freedom of speech, press, rules of law and human rights. It is one of the most important financial centers of the world, the main gateway to China, and the freest economy in the world. It has a very clean and efficient government, the public transportation infrastructure is world class, and it is a paradise for the shoppers. You can find almost anything here according to your preference and budget; you will always find something to eat, buy or take a ride at anytime of the day and night; and moving around the city is really easy and convenient.

Tell us a bit about the cultural life of the place.

Although the city state’s population is predominately Chinese - according to government’s static almost 95% of the population - it is still a very modern, sophisticated and cosmopolitan city and both west and east traditions are equally mixed. Due to its colonizing past, English and Cantonese are still the two main official languages and both Western and Chinese traditions and festivals are still celebrated in earnest. It also has other minority groups of people from different background and nations, however their numbers are still too small to make any significant marks on the local calendar and it is mostly seen as a Chinese city. After the handover in 1997, it has became much more like a Chinese city, Mandarin is gradually replacing English as the other main language of the city, and the ongoing effort of decolonizing Hong Kong by sending more tourists from China is still in full throttle.

What’s hot? What are people reading?
Due to China’s overwhelming presence in Hong Kong, English has to take a backseat, and as of that, the standard of English has drastically gone down in Hong Kong. People are certainly reading fewer English books, we tend to read less here on this side of the hemisphere in the first place, and I am not sure what people are reading now to be honest. It will still be safe to say though, people always read the most popular ones from well-known writers, and Hong Kong should be no different. As the Chinese dominated society, they should be reading a lot of popular books in Chinese as well. But as I don’t read any Chinese books, I am certainly not qualified to say anything about it.

Can you recommend any books set in or around Hong Kong?
I don’t know that many books about Hong Kong, the one I remembered reading is NOBLE HOUSE by James Clavell, and WILD SWANS by Jung Chang is also from this area. It was also the reason why I wrote my 7th book OLD MEN DON’T CRY, I read somewhere in the paper that people were lamenting about the shortage of books about Hong Kong, and thought that why not I write one. It is about Hong Kong, Chinese traditions and a tearjerker. It is going to be published soon.

Who are the best local writers?
I am really sorry, there is none, or at least I knew one especially in English writing, and God willing, I might be one someday… Well, there is nothing wrong for dreaming, right?

Is the location an inspiration or distraction for you?

Of course, it is an inspirational place for me. Since I have spent all of my adult life here, whatever I have learned and experienced in life are mostly from here and writing would have been nothing but a compilation of meaningless words if it was not for experiences. Just like other writers, I write mostly through my own experiences and learning and most of those characters in our books are more or less related to people from our real world. For good or bad in life, we see things in our own way, and use our own different way to analyze them. And I am no exception. Hong Kong has given me many things in life, including some interesting subject matters of my story, and it will always remain an inspirational place for me.

What are you writing?
Since the publication of my books last Jan, 2015, I have been so busy and preoccupied with the marketing job that I simply have no time to continue writing and my 9th book which I have started by early 2015 has somehow stuck at the middle now. My 7th epic novel about Hong Kong and my 8th book about the celebration of simple women are both ready for publication now and the final date of release is still not confirmed yet. It will probably be by early 2016, I write only for my charity and in order to support my charity, I have planned to write at least 2 books on a yearly basis.

Sum up life in Hong Kong in three words.
Hectic, interesting, fulfilling!

About Tim Gurung

I am writer of conscience based in Hong Kong, I write for the people, society and especially for my own happiness. I on serious global and social issues, I write only for my charity, ISSLCARE, which in turn helps finance poor and needy families in Nepal, so they can send their children to school. I have 6 books published, 2 more coming soon, and have a plan of writing at least 2 books in a yearly basis to help support my charity.


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