We need to talk about hunger

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If you look through the door of my pantry you will see a window into my world.  My pantry expresses my likes and dislikes and my cultural background by the presence and absence of certain goods. You will also see that in my house, we are not hungry.  I have been hungry in the past.  I plan against this by stocking up for the possibility that there might come a day when I might not have money.  It isn’t an entirely rational approach to domestic food provisioning as it is a practice that produces waste.  But, I always know where my next meal is coming from.  And I also know I am lucky to be able to be so potentially wasteful. My household budget is shaped by my past experience of hunger.  I am sure I am not alone, but for some reason hunger is not a fashionable term these days.  What is that all about?

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Whither the light?

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The hour just after sunrise and the one again before sunset are the Golden Hours according to photography wisdom.  They are golden because the light is apparently softer and the shadows are fewer… or something. These technical aspects of photography are not really my thing, I must confess.  I do know that the weather can influence the colours of sunrise and sunset. I also know that while the visual effects are beautiful, the physical effects of the weather can be catastrophic for those affected by it, and often those most affected are the poor. Continue reading

Seeing below

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Hong Kong is a city of views. Upon arriving in Hong Kong one is assaulted with the image of the famous skyline. This commanding perspective offers a view of the top both literally and figuratively, if we also consider that much of that skyline represents the global circulation of things and money.  Populated with 294 buildings over 150m tall (35-40 floors), and 2,354 buildings over 100m tall (New York only has 794), the city handily wins as being the place with the most opportunity to look down from above. But what do you see when you look down? Continue reading

Street food, everyday life, and patterns of inequality

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Dim Sum. Photo taken at street food vendor in Mong Konk.

This photo is of steamer baskets containing dim sum. Dim sum are roughly translated as little bites, and can be savoury or sweet. My favorites are Char Sui Bao, Shu Mai, and Jin Dui. Char Sui Bao are white buns filled with bar-b-que pork. Shu Mai look like a large thimble or very small basket out of some sort of yellow dough and filled with either shrimp or pork filling. Continue reading

What is the cost of housing in Hong Kong?

There is a shortage of housing in Hong Kong. Actually, there seems to be building all the time and new flats are being regularly put on the market, but they are expensive. Indeed a trawl through the real estate adverts reveals a less than 500sq foot flat (1 bedroom) that is on sale for just over $10 million (HK), which when you do the conversion is a bit under $1.3 million US. This is not a particularly spectacular flat in a particularly spectacular location. This is about normal. It will rent for about $31,000 per month (about $4,000 US/£2,500), which is also normal. The thing is, according to the last census, nearly 60% of the population earns less than $25,000 (HK) per month. In fact, if you think about it, to get a mortgage for this ONE BEDROOMED flat, you would need to earn in excess of $100,000 (HK) per month, quite a bit in excess. The same census figures reveal that less than 5% of Hong Kong’s population earns more than this. There is a numbers problem here. So what do people do? Continue reading