Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snot all it's cracked up to be

Having been away from Hong Kong for ten days, I'd missed out on its many beautiful sights, not least a man picking his nose on the platform of the MTR.

Today we saw a particularly fine specimen. I'm not sure if it was his bright red blazer, or his oily combover, or the way he could fit his left index finger into his nose, right up to the second joint.
I was entranced by this. I sometimes wonder if a generation of Chinese men enjoyed Total Recall so much that they are continually reenacting the scene where Arnie pulls a bug out of his brain through his nostril. What better homage to the Austrian powerhouse could there be than that?

Still, trying to fit your arm into your face, right up to the elbow, can't be that healthy. What was odder was the expression of surprise on his face when he retracted his hand. He peered in shock and awe at it, as though he'd been fumbling in the front of his face for something and couldn't understand why he hadn't found it?

What was he looking for? A lottery ticket? A pair of socks? His car keys? A ham sandwich? A roll of hundred dollar bills? A map of the final location of the Sierra Madre?

He was disappointed though, because none of those things was attached to his finger when he withdrew it. With a look of gloom and despair, he'd wipe his finger on his white t-shirt, and then resume the hunt. Over time, the fossilised record of his explorations of his nasal cavities would form some obscure message across his shirt. Perhaps he was preserving wisdom for future generations. A few words might be missing, because from time to time he'd run his fingers through his hair instead of across his clothes.
Clearly this was a man without respect for preserving the history of nasal mucus. I really needed to have a word with him.

However, I don't have very good Chinese. Actually, I have very little Chinese beyond "faster!" and "stop the taxi now!", which would both be of limited use in this situation. This isn't such a bad thing; if I could say things like "That's a disgusting thing to do in public, you should find a tissue" then I'd probably get a slap, and it's embarassing to get a beatdown in Admiralty station from a man dressed like an attendant from a slightly dodgy golf club.

Though perhaps there's a gap in the market for combined Chinese language, deportment and self-defence classes. I'll be cleaning up.

Cleaning up snot on the Hong Kong MTR, that is.


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