In this edition of Urban Diary, we feature travel writer Chow Chung-wah and poet Jennifer Wong.
Chung-wah and I were once colleagues at an international NGO. Now we are neighbours. The two of us always meet for dinner, but we always have to be quick, since we both have endless writing tasks to complete. I met Jennifer also because of work. Now she lives in London where arts and culture are deeply ingrained in the city's DNA, and which offers a more creative environment for her English poetry writing.
It is unlikely I would ever have met them and become friends with them had they not given up the chance to develop high-flying careers in order to pursue their dreams. Chung-wah is a law graduate from the University of Hong Kong. Jennifer was once
an administrative officer in the Hong Kong government after reading English at Oxford University. Like most of us, these two friends like stability. However they are prepared to embrace uncertainty when it comes to the pursuit of their passion and talent.
Jennifer lives in London these days, but Hong Kong is her anchor. She returns frequently and finds literary inspiration in Hong Kong's everyday life and streetscape, as well as the rituals and practices that she grew up with. Subjects as varied as folk sorcery under Gooseneck Bridge (Canal Road Flyover in Wan Chai), hikes around Tai Tam Reservoir and ice-cream van memories at the disappeared Queen's Pier have been captured in her poetry.
Criss-crossing cultures is part and parcel of her life. It is also a recurrent theme in her poetry. Therefore, I asked our sub-editor Haider Kikabhoy, who is from a local Indian-Chinese family and who has lived in London for over a decade in between stints in Bangkok and Guatemala, to write Jennifer's story for Urban Diary.
Chung-wah lives in Hong Kong where she takes writing assignments from different corners of the globe. From time to time she travels for her work. When she is in town, she maintains the curiosity and enthusiasm of a traveller to see and experience Hong Kong. It is always great fun to stroll around any local neighborhood in Chung-wah's company.
I once watched a locally-produced travel show on Japan. The host shrieked in delight at the rich marine life she saw there. However, I wonder how the host and the TV station she worked for would react when wildlife in Hong Kong comes under threat? Will they stand up for it? We have rich wildlife in Hong Kong. We have breathtaking cityscapes. We have vibrant local cultural activities. Hong Kong is a lovely place as long as we open our eyes and appreciate more closely what is around us. However, for Hong Kong to remain lovely and be even more lovely, we have to stand up for our city when what makes it good comes under threat.