Social Lab in Sham Shui Po

Sham Shui Po Park — 16 August
* This post is based on my observation while the interview was conducted in Cantonese and later narrated in English by Iris.

Going around Sham Shui Po Park, we saw many elderly people around the park but were sitting alone. Hot and humid weather it was, some of the elderly men were wiping their body with wet towel, while some of them were sitting and reading newspaper. And we tried to approach one by one. Wasn’t easy to get approval but we finally succeeded after few refusals.

Before heading to Sham Shui Po, we made some assumptions about lonely elderly in that area.

As Sham Shui Po is considered as one of the poor areas in Hong Kong, we thought we will encounter with elderly people with poor living standard with no family members or relatives.

However it was a different case meeting Mr. X (as he did not tell his name).
A thin man in his 60s, Mr. X mentioned he lives with his wife and have no children. Something interesting I understood was, he mentioned about children getting some diseases, so they thought it might be difficult to raise them and therefore did not had children.

“Don’t buy unnecessary stuffs.”

Retired from his accounting job in a restaurant 3 years ago, he mentioned he had a good earning then and now depends on government pension which is less compared to his earning then. But he is content with what he gets and thinks it is okay. He also think there is nothing to change in Sham Shui Po and satisfied with what is around. He also thinks only buying things he can afford is the right thing and advised Irene not to buy unnecessary stuffs too.

“Do not touch politics!”

Even though Sham Shui Po is a poor area, it doesn’t bother him and compares with Mong Kok, and finds Sham Shui Po better than Mong Kok as the latter has more political demonstrations and problems. At times he also visits Mong Kok to see events at political unrest, but he is against political demonstrations because he thinks it is making Hong Kong’s economy worse and worse. He is interested in politics, reads about it on the newspaper, watches international news on Phoenix TV but ironically he wants young people not to touch politics because he thinks such protest is harmful for Hong Kong’s economy. He mentioned how young people these days complain much and not work much in Hong Kong compared to his youth days where they worked much.

Now living in a private building, his daily routine starts waking up at 10 a.m. and after breakfast spends time reading newspaper in the park, like the way we met him today followed by exercise. He also prepares the dinner and watches new or football on TV before heading to bed around 2 a.m. He has heard about this other park in Sham Shui Po from his friend but thinks no need to explore as the park we were interviewing is fine as well as the regular market and home. Mentioning about the market, the street market he understands that such market is making street more narrower but has nothing to complain about. He is also suffering from colon cancer, stroke and diabetes (which was discovered after he had stroke) and is grateful for the stroke because of which he found about diabetes and learned lesson on careful eating.

He prefers to be alone and doesn’t want his photos be taken nor he wants to read his story before we can publish.

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