A couple of weeks ago at one of the demonstrations against the Star Ferry demolition, I signed my name and cell phone number to a contact sheet that a student protester handed me on a clipboard. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve signed similar things thrust at me here in Hong Kong, or back in Brooklyn where I also attend rallies against things like the slimy Atlantic Yards, a property development land grab that would be the envy of the most rapacious Hong Kong mogul.
But nobody, ever, has actually followed up and contacted me after one of those things. Until last Saturday, in the middle of the Great Hong Kong Earthquake Internet Crisis. I’m sitting at the computer, tearing my hair out while Gmail’s “Loading” screen hangs for twenty minutes, when the phone rings unexpectedly. It’s a young man speaking Cantonese, and I am a bit flummoxed at first–who is this?
“Tin Sing Mah Tauh,” he stammered hesitantly, and then I made the connection. He asked–in Canto-glish– for my email address, and I gave it to him. Exactly twenty minutes later, a communique in Chinese arrived in my Gmail box, with a schedule of upcoming events in the continuing fight to save the lovely old Queen’s Pier. And, incidentally, preserve history, memory, and the quality of civic life in Hong Kong.
These protesters really have a lot of energy and persistance. And I’m impressed by any organization that manages to get a mass emailing out in the middle of an Internet shutdown. As if that weren’t enough, the group is full of creative artists with a great sense of humor–if you haven’t taken a stroll already through their unauthorized installation at the Star Ferry construction site, you should do it quickly. Before it’s torn down, too.
The group’s only weak link seems to be English language media. So, as part of Learning Cantonese’s cross-cultural outreach, I’m going to post translations of their event schedules when I receive them.
Tomorrow’s Star Ferry/Queen’s Pier event:
January 4th, Thursday. 8pm. At Queen’s Pier–a street theatre performance by Playback Theatre, a local actor’s company that specializes in political improvisation. There will also be another performance group called A Generation.