At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


You might assume from what you have read here that my weekends are an interval of dreary solitude. But the opposite is in fact often the case.
Yes, if I stayed at home I would remain quite alone.
My roommate spends the entire weekend outside the house - in addition to the many hours she spends with her boyfriend she also does volunteer work - and consequently the apartment is silent, and it would be quite pointless to stay there.
So I leave.
Once I've headed out into the city, I am surrounded by people.
Vibrant, alive, interesting, noisy, and sometimes slightly crazy.
Free entertainment.

I like people.
They're fascinating.
It's what they're good at.


In Chinatown there is almost no place where you can not hear other folks.
One is never alone when people all around you are shopping, eating, or vehemently discussing.
Or doing all three simultaneously, with varying degrees of verve.
Almost without trying one will be involved in a conversation at some point.

In North Beach it is often wise to NOT be pulled into a conversation; if it happens one may find oneself entangled in a long shpiel that inevitably features someone else's stupendous ego.
Many North Beach regulars have taken raging individualism to heart, but they just aren't very good at it. They lack the necessary perspective.

One can be unique without being a flaming egomaniac or a crashing bore.
Numerous intense individuals North of Broadway do NOT grasp this.
They are the centres of the universe, surely everyone agrees?
If you tolerate imposition, you will end up drained.
Whatever you give them, they'll want more.
Better not meet their gaze. Ever.
Ignore, ignore, ignore.

However, if those individualistic North Beach types were in Chinatown, they might indeed be the centre of attention. The Cantonese just love folks acting goofy, and nothing quickens quite so well as street theatre. No, they won't come close to the person loudly making a fool of himself. But they'll happily drink in the display from a safe distance, and will remember any wild behaviour with considerable joy.

At restaurants in C'town on a weekend there's also the delicious possibility of observing domestic quarrels (married non-Chinese), tantrums (small non-Chinese), exhibits of random randiness (young non-Chinese), gibbering idiocy (mostly non-Chinese), flamboyant bad taste (tattooed non-Chinese), or, if one is truly lucky, the likeable side of a different culture, which makes perfectly clear that despite all their seeming differences, those people really and truly are loveably similar - and remarkably often, non-Chinese.

你嘅仔女咁叻, 點解佢哋唔識聽廣東話?

['neige tsainui gam lek, timkai keuitei m-sik teng kwantung-wa?']

Non-Chinese, by the standards of many Cantonese, is a category that includes American-born Chinese who are mono-lingual in English, as well as Mandarin-speakers, Shanghainese, and other foreigners.

"Your kids are so smart, why don't they understand Cantonese?"

Chinese people, as you must realize, speak Cantonese.

For Cappucinos and remarkable Italian pastries, go to North Beach.
To observe many different types of people, Chinatown.

Bring a friend, and share a meal.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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