Newsletter No. 336

No. 336, 19.4.2009 第三三六期 二零零九年四月十九日 No. 336 19 April 2009 解读十七层大千世界 ─ 重庆大厦 Reading Chungking Mansions —the World in 17 Storeys ( To be continued ) H ong Kong likes to tout itself as a cosmopolitan city. But perhaps the only place here where you can see a real cultural and ethnic mix is Tsim Sha Tsui. And nowhere is this as clear as in Chungking Mansions (CKM). Located a pillow’s throw from the Peninsula, that epitome of old world elegance, CKM, built in 1961, has everything the Peninsula has—shops, beds, food, service, and is everything it is not. Over 120 different nationalities pass through the doors of CKM in a single year. Its five 17-storey blocks are home to a resident cosmopolitan population of about 4,000, plus an estimated 10,000 daily visitors who trade in everything from second-hand mobile phones to textiles to precious stones. The Global Building The complex and eclectic charm of CKM is what in 2006 prompted Prof. Gordon Mathews of the Anthropology Department to study the building, which he calls ‘a world centre of low-end globalization’. ‘There are no other buildings like this in the world. There are neighbourhoods like this, but not a single, concentrated place. Chungking Mansions is unique.’ To study CKM, he takes part in and observes the goings-on inside it. He spends one or two nights a week at guesthouses there, and has stayed in all of the hundred or so guesthouses in the building. He talks to different people, interviews some of them, even visits them in their hometowns across the world. The People According to Prof. Mathews, on any given night, about half of the beds at CKM are occupied by traders dealing in mobile phones, watches, clothing, and all sort of goods, from used car parts to knockoff Jacuzzi baths. He has calculated that some 20% of the mobile phones now in use in Sub-Saharan Africa have passed through CKM. There are also temporary workers who come to Hong Kong on tourist visas and work. Two years ago, 香 港号称国际都会,不过,也许只有在尖沙咀才能 找到真正融合文化和种族的地方。重庆大厦建于 1961年,跟经典优雅的半岛酒店只有一街之隔,半岛有的 商店、床铺、食物、服务,它莫不俱备,只不过换个样儿。每 年在这儿进出的人士,国籍超过一百二十种。五座各十七 层的大厦里,住了约四千名国际住客,另估计每日约近万 名访客到此进行贸易,货品由二手手机、纺织品以至宝石, 不一而足。 大千世界 重庆大厦复杂迷离、异彩迸发的魅力,吸引了人类学系 的 Prof. Gordon Mathews 在 2006 年对之开展研究。 Prof. Mathews 形容重庆大厦是「低档次全球化的世界 中心」,「放眼天下,你可以找到类似的社区,却找不到 这样单独存在而又集大成的楼宇,它是独一无二的。」为 了深入研究,Prof. Mathews 不单置身其中,观察在大厦 发生的人和事,更每周进驻一至两晚,几乎住遍这大厦 内全数约百所宾馆。他与各色人等交谈,访问他们,甚至 远赴他们的家乡追访。 过客百态 这位中大教授的调查显示,每晚在重庆大厦度宿的,近半 是贩卖商,交易的货品林林总总,包括手机、手表、衣物, 以至旧汽车零件及山寨货按摩浴缸等。据他推算,非洲撒 哈拉沙漠以南地区使用的手机,约有两成经由重庆大厦转 销至当地。 大厦也有不少持旅游签证来港做临时工的人,他们大部分 来自印度加尔各答的一个社区。Prof. Mathews 认识了 其中一人,成为朋友,两年前随他到当地看看。他说:「这 些人在港每天洗碗十八小时,月薪约三千,被剥削殆尽。 (续下页) 可是,衣锦还乡,他们就是明星。这家 伙在加尔各答买了一部闪闪发亮的电单 车,又把两位妹妹嫁出了,每个婚礼都有二 千位嘉宾。他正重建祖屋,左邻右里的男孩子跟随左右, 羡慕得两眼发亮呢。」 Prof. Mathews在大厦里的志愿组织基督教励行会服务 中心为寻求庇护的人士授课,每周一次,教授时事议题。 他们大部分是非洲人,因为逃避家乡的政治逼害而来港。 Prof. Mathews上课时会分派《国际先驱论坛报》,学生 随即雄辩滔滔,针锋相对,他们会说:「朋友,你的论据有 五处谬误。」「这些人的识见令人惊讶,然而因为不能在 港工作,生活往往颇为困顿。香港政府每月给他们不足二 千元作租金和日用补贴。他们在这儿的声誉也不好,因为 有些人认为他们是来工作的。没错,有些的确是;可是,大 部分都不是。」Prof. Mathews这样形容他的学生。 相识相知 虽说是做研究,Prof. Mathews并非麻木地搜集资料和分 析。他和不少人交了朋友,并获得他们的信任。举例说, 他与一位新闻界朋友在大厦里边吃羊肉黄姜饭边聊天的 时候,便见巴基斯坦籍的老店主趋前示意,请他帮忙刺手 指;原来店主知道教授是糖尿病人,随身带备测试血糖的 工具。

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