Tuesday, June 22, 2004

If you've gotta a warrent, I guess you're gonna come in...
Life in Hong Kong has not been as eventful and unpredictable as my early days in Shenzhen when I was being held captive by wealthy widows and force-fed goose guts. But I was in a small police raid last night, which gave me some hope for the future and material for this blog.
Because I'm working 4 p.m.-midnight or so my days are spent waking up to the sound of construction clatter about 10 a.m. and slowly puttering around the confines of C-3 on the 24th floor of the Tak Bo Garden apartments. After gazing out the living room window and checking the progress of the mammoth building project next door for which some developer has ripped out the side of what appeared to be a perfectly good foothill (viewed from 24 floors up, it resembles a Cecil B. Demille set for the pyramid building shots in The 10 Commandments), I gaze vacantly at meager TV offerings and usually settle on something like the Voice of America channel before finally folding myself into a fetal position in the World's Smallest Bathtub where I attempt to cleanse myself using a handheld sprayer that alternately spits stinging needles of red hot spray and frozen drool.
The post-work nights haven't been too much more exciting. I did discover a small bar called Pacific about 5 minutes from my apt. recently, though. It's no MoonDance, won't have a liquor license until July, only serves soft drinks and fruit juice on the premises but it does boast a saucy, flirty Flipina/Chinese manager/bar wench named Polly who - if you'd prefer something stronger than Fanta orange - will give you a red plastic bucket and escort you out the back door into an alley to a guy in a hole in a wall who will sell you 4 bottles of San Miguel for $87HK. You put the beer in the bucket, go back with Polly to Pacific and she'll throw some ice in the bucket, give you a glass and open the bottles for you as needed. She'll also throw a bowl of peanuts in front of you and ask for $20HK. If you don't want the peanuts cuz you don't want to pay for them or aren't hungry, she'll pretend to misunderstand and plonk down a bowl of fish flavored noodle chip things, also for $20HK. She'll also make you feel like you'd be taking her to the moon and back if you accept the fish noodle things, so you cave in and pay up.
So it was last night when suddenly Polly's eyes - which had been widening with appreciation when I told her about a Byrds song called Pretty Polly which she'd of course never heard of - widened even more at something behind me. I was sitting with my back to the door, but thanks to the mirror at the bar I could see five figures with weighty belts, badges, hats, tan uniforms and holstered pistols coming inside. The Canto-pop that passes for music was mercifully and suddenly cut off, the bar lights went up and I turned around to see one of Hong Kong's finest lock eyes with me and then smile.
"Hello," he said. "Welcome to Hong Kong."
"Uh, yeah. Thanks. Hello," I replied.
I turned around and whispered to Polly as the 16 other patrons - mostly all 18-20something Chinese - tried to look calm as the police squad, headed by a woman sergeant, fanned out and began demanding and scrutinizing IDs.
"What's wrong? What are they doing?"
"OH! Nothing wrong. Just checking. Nothing wrong at all," she said under her breath, while beginning to make eyes at one of the middle aged male cops.
They were looking for underage drinkers and while I would've been flattered to be carded, I didn't have my passport and I don't know if a Colorado driver's license would've sufficed.
The whole process took almost 40 minutes due to a natural law that seems to be in force in both mainland China and Hong Kong that states it takes at least three able bodied people twice as long to do a simple task that a blind, arthritic monkey butler could do in half the time.
The cops left with no suspects, the Canto-pop cranked up, lights dimmed and I swallowed the last of my San Miguel, said goodbye to Polly and walked home wondering how the hell that cop knew I was new to Hong Kong.
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