Sorry, CNN, we're not fleeing our home

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 21 Jun 2019

No, I don't need to be airlifted out of my apartment on Hong Kong island.

No, we have not been herded into communist re-education camps.

No, there are no tanks rolling into the Pacific Place mall.

People are writing to me (some from genuinely dangerous places) telling me they are praying for me and my family to survive what's happening in Hong Kong.

"Send food parcels," I replied to one. "Soy-poached guinea-fowl with caramelized onions, plus a bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages 2008."

Can't blame folk for getting the wrong idea.

Media outlets love pictures of violence, giving the impression that Hong Kong is a war zone.

On Wednesday, TV journalists from CNN stopped me and others on the walkway outside Exchange Square asking questions as if they expected us to be fleeing.

I narrowly managed to stop myself saying what they wanted to hear: "I'm running to the airport with only the designer clothes on my back."

* * *

Most business people I chatted to this week were polite about the demonstrators - but it only took one and a half drinks for their real feelings to come out.

Tour industry people are horrified by all the cancellations.

One top hotel saw its occupancy rate of 90-something percent drop to 55 percent, a hotelier told me.

We're going to have to cut prices, a property developer said. (Hard to hide my smile at that one.)

* * *

Hong Kong isn't a war zone - but there's one danger spot.

Retailers in the malls around Admiralty (including Pacific Place, United Centre and Queensway) were furious at e-mails circulating this week telling people to avoid the area for their own safety. Some have only just reopened their stores.

Swire executives kept Pacific Place open during the Umbrella movement of 2016 but shut the mall last week.

One Westerner watching the video clips of fighting at the doors of Legco asked why Hong Kong police don't use heavy weapons, machine guns and armored cars. "How come your guys mostly just use aerosol cans?"

Yes, he was American.

* * *

On a lighter note, the local habit of giving snacks family names ("Wife Cake" is the most famous) means tourists are often astonished by signs like this HK$20 husband in Tai O, sent in yesterday by reader John Campbell.

* * *

Oh the irony. To show solidarity with student-led protests, the pan-democrats automatically refused to support any government proposals on Wednesday.

But that day's biggest proposal was to give HK$1.4 billion of government money toward a new building for students.

When things get overpoliticized, the result is always the same: everyone looks bad.

* * *

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor burst into tears as she was berated by trade union leader Alice Mak Mei-kuen, who also burst into tears, this newspaper reported yesterday, quoting sister publication EastWeek Magazine.

This elicited sexist jokes from some readers, which I won't repeat.

But men should not be smug.

A psychologist friend told me that women's range of emotional expressions (complex language, tears, passive aggression, hugs) and multitasking ability makes them far better problem-solvers than men.

"Being a woman is like having 50 tabs open at once on your computer browser," the psychologist told me.

She meant it as a metaphor, but out of curiosity I checked my wife's laptop. She had 63 tabs open on her browser. Not joking.

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