Karen K. Ho is tall, curvy, and Chinese. Crazy, right?Read More
By Simon Yau
Oh sure, everybody knows that people make generalisations about other people based on ethnicity. I’m supposed to be good at math, for example, or be able to run atop a cedar forest (which I totally can do).
I’m not here to throw a pity party though. Let’s face it, we’re all human, we all make assumptions. So here are 10 things I take for granted about other people just because of where I’m from.
1) People know what HK is
What, you mean you don’t refer to Hong Kong by its initials? I thought that was a universally accepted colloquialism, like A.C. or the P.R.C. Maybe I should have just named this point “Chinese people love acronyms”.
2) Not everybody eats all of an animal
Sure, people might think I’m weird when I say I eat tripe or chicken feet on the regular. But you know what? If your entire diet consists of items I can order at a Firkin pub, I’m judging you just as much — so, you know. We’re square.
3) People have heard of ‘Infernal Affairs’
That’s INFERNAL with an F. What the heck is a Departed anyways?
4) Everyone is tiny
I make this assumption because in Canada, I buy clothes sized XS and they fit me perfectly. In Hong Kong, I am a size XL. That kind of disparity will confuse a dude.
5) Cups are redundant
True story: until about grade 10, my house had no cups. We only had mugs. I mean, I guess my parents figured why have separate vessels for hot and cold liquids when you could drink both out of a mug perfectly well? And the weird part is all my friends had no cups either! I swear cups weren’t in vogue amongst Hong Kong immigrants until 1997. I will believe this until the day I die.
6) Instant Noodles are an acceptable breakfast food
I’ve touched on this before in Ask a Chinese Person, but eating instant noodles will not make you a social pariah in Hong Kong. If you are scarfing down pre-packaged Beef Flavoured Ramen noodles at 9am, it does not signify that you need to get your shitty life together or that you’re still living like a college student. It means you are having a delicious brunch, particularly with a raw egg and some spam. Bon appetit.
7) Girls expect to be doted on
Speaking of generalisations, I feel I can safely say that in Hong Kong dating culture, men are… how shall we put this delicately… whipped? It’s very common to see a dude carrying his girl’s Gucci purse around the mall for her, even when she has nothing in her hands. Or standing beside her in a clothing store while she picks out dresses while holding her shopping bags. It’s weird. But it’s true.
8) Pizza Hut is a classy dinner
Ok, FIRST OFF, in HK people like thousand island dressing on their pizza. SECONDLY, Pizza Hut is a classy joint over there. I mean, it’s the same Pizza Hut, but it’s not the equivalent of Pizza Hut here, if that makes any sense. It has the cache of say, The Keg. It would be fine to take your parents to Pizza Hut for their birthday. So reverse that and imagine going somewhere The Keg was considered junk? Culture shock!
9) Parents do not show affection towards each other
Unless you mean helping each other do chores around the house. But no joke, I have never seen my parents kiss. Ever. Unless they were just accidentally head butting each other in the face reaching for the same item from the car cubby.
10) All kids live at home as long as they want
When I found out Western parents encouraged their kids to move out, I was blown away. If my folks had things their way, we’d be like a farm house with all my siblings raising their children in the same building. As it were, living at home into your 30′s is completely typical amongst many people I know. It’s cost efficient you know — mortgages are for the weak.