Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For Sinophiles and anarcho-capitalists...

...and those who remember a certain luminous performance in a great movie , a new book called "Ghetto at the Center of the World" reviewed this morning in the Wall Street Journal will resonate:

The building is a caravansary with halal eateries, Internet cafes, Bollywood video kiosks, groceries, barber shops, a laundry, currency exchanges and an Islamic bookstore. About 70 discreet female sex workers live in the upper stories, while their more aggressive competitors can be found around the corner near the 7-Eleven. In the alleyways beside the building, you can find a magazine stand with a selection of straight and gay pornography, a makeshift bar that sells shots of Indian whiskey that the Africans refer to as "tears of the lion" and a sad community of homeless Nepalese heroin addicts.

In the ethnic mix, one nationality is conspicuously absent. Hong Kong Chinese are largely terrified of the place's reputation for violence and poverty...... The shop owners are predominantly mainland Chinese, not locals. Most of the managers are South Asian—and a majority of the illegal temporary workers are Muslims from the Calcutta neighborhood of Kidderpore.

1 comment:

David Chute said...

Wonderful. A book I might actually read.

You may remember that Nora's first hotel room in Hong Kong, on her way to China the last time, was in Chungking Mansions -- until HK native Terance Chang and others, appalled, induced her to move.

You can barely see it, but the shot in this old post is of the offspring in situ: