Watching the Hongkers

20 06 2011

‘Watching the English’ by the anthropologist Katie Fox is an absolutely fascinating read. She basically observes, dissects and analyses each an every aspect of English behaviour in the most amusing ways possible.

Reading through the book, I thought: If I find it so fascinating to read about English behaviour, why don’t I try observing Hongker (that is, Hong Kong-er) behaviour? So here it is – my crude attempt at observing my fellow Hongkers’ behaviour on the train.

Hongkers on the MTR

Photo by t-a-i

There are two types of Hongkers travelling on the MTR (train) at any given time: 1) Those glued to their phones; 2) Those not glued to their phones.

1. Those Glued to Their Phones:
People in this particular demographic group are clinically addicted to their mobile phones. The symptoms for addiction are numerous:

  • tapping/swiping/scratching furiously away on their touchscreens all for the purpose of some game.
  • incessantly swiping their fingers down the touchscreen to renew their live Facebook speed, and chuckling to themselves when they see an amusing picture of their drunk friend.
  • watching some trashy TV show
  • texting
  • talking very, very loudly on the phone about personal issues which no one else could care less about. This symptom may also point to an inability to recognise the fact that: 1) you’re not invisible on the train, and 2) everyone can hear you on the train.

2. Those NOT Glued to Their Phones:
People in this group exhibit more diverse behaviour, which I have summarised as follows:

  • the sleepers: commuters trying very hard to stay awake, but in failing to do so, nod off in the comfort of their hard metallic train seat with their head bobbing madly from left to right, much to the demise of those next to them.
  • the fashion-junkies: mostly females who decide that the train has transformed into their bathrooms and thus justifies their taking out their make-up kit and boldly applying their mascara, eye liners etc.
  • the newspaper-aficionados: mostly middle aged men reading the horse racing guide on Apple Daily
  • the love birds: couples who can’t resist the temptation of cuddling on a jerky train while being squeezed on all sides by sweaty commuters, or who for some reason deliberately choose to publicly and physically display affection.

Of course, this fun little experiment of mine to observe my fellow Hongker commuters is far from complete or fully representative of the Hong Kong population. If you have any other observations to chip in, feel free to do so in the comments section.

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4 responses

20 06 2011
Sunny in LPC


i never thought Watching the English will be popular enough to be read by someone living in Hong Kong. I love the book really much.

I do think that some of the observations that the author made in England, do apply in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong was a British Colony.

We should find some time to look out for more of these behavior in the HK society, actually, I think there are also some sort of rules governing LPC as well…..


20 06 2011

Wonderful! What kind of similarities do you see between the behaviour described in Watching the English and us Hong Kong-ers, even LPC-ers? I am only half way through the book but I’ll make sure to keep a look out for any possible links. Thanks for your great comment – it’s going to add another dimension to my reading!

21 06 2011
Benson Chiu

You would find different behaviour of so-called HongKers between Urban Line Train and East Rail Line train.

25 07 2011
Watching the Hongkers: Things you Learn from Living in HK « myMOVEMENTS

[…] on my earlier post, ‘Watching the Hongkers’,  here are a few things that you tend to pick up – consciously and unconsciously – […]

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