Friday, May 02, 2008

The Olympic torch in Hong Kong (Cathay, the Central Nation - part 3)

Since the Olympic torch came to Hong Kong today, I bowed to the throng of the indomitable masses and made my way to watch the relay go through Central. Packing my digital camera, for the inevitable photograph taking to ensure this event will stay etched in my mind (or at least on my hard drive) forever, and my mp3 player, for the prolonged waiting I would have to endure to ensure an ideal watching position, I made my way to Central Pier one and half hours before the torch was scheduled to arrive.

I need to ensure an ideal place for photographing, since I have a poor digital camera with a very inadequate zoom function. I was thinking of watching from the IFC shopping mall next to Central Pier but it was too far away. It was pointless picking that spot anyway since the mall staff had started cordoning off the balcony areas. This was most likely due to safety reasons. With everybody wanting to watch the Olympic torch go by, the last thing the mall will need is people dropping over from their roof gardens.

I was going to watch from the walkway but I was told by a police officer the walkway will be closed off during the actual torch relay. I decided I had to brave the masses and watch from the sidelines instead. I hate crowds almost to the point of agoraphobia. I don't know why people enjoy the 'atmosphere' of having so many people around them. I detest the ensuing masses for the stuffiness and being squashed like sardines. If I was being pressed against naked gorgeous woman, that would be worth it but we all know that is a fantasy in my wildest dreams.

With an hour to go, I amused myself by a variety of means. Listening to my podcasts of "The Now Show" and "The Bugle", I watched the thronging crowds waving their Hong Kong & China flags whilst cheering at anything that went past, including three trucks with advertising slogans of the major Olympic sponsors and any police vehicles racing by. They even cheered when a few tour buses transporting people to Central Pier went by. I always wondered what being normal is and this is it - cheering at anything that goes by. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Eventually the big event arrived. It was hard to say what I felt as I was too busy photographing. That's the problem with things that happen with your life - if you don't pay attention, they just come and go without you noticing. It almost happened to me but I think it is just memorable to see something very few people get to see.

I know many people have used the Olympic torch relay to promote their political agenda. I do oppose this but I also sympathize with their plight, knowing this might be the only way for the world to listen to the message. In Hong Kong there were very few protests compared to London and Paris, partly because there are few sympathizers in the region and partly because the Hong Kong government barred four activists from entering Hong Kong. In a truly free society they would be allowed into Hong Kong and to participate in free demonstrations. However only Mia Farrow was allowed in to speak on the situation in Sudan. People think Hong Kong is ruled under the "Two System, One Country" rule but that is partly true, partly false.

As I said before, ignorance is bliss. That is what most people are suffering from in the world, especially the throngs of cheering people at today's torch relay who 'love' their country. That is what patriotism, religious faith and supporting football teams are as well. It is a deluded belief in something that put unquestionable loyalty to, despite its problems. People in Hong Kong forget that despite China being an economic power with a great Olympic record, the Mainland does neglect the farmers who earn less than US$100 per year (despite the fact that Chairman Mao stated that the power of the Chinese Communist Party came from the peasant farmer) and there was widespread systemic doping in the swimming team. People who follow the Christian church who acknowledge the missionaries do good things in far off region fail to acknowledge the accumulation of wealth by the Roman Catholic church and the spate of paedophilia cases by the US church. To everything side of a coin, there is a bad side and a good side. Without thinking or debate, we should just accept what is laid out to us.

No comments: