Perched atop the slopes of Hollywood Road just at the entrance of Aberdeen Street is a little gift shop.
Cute, tiny faces of pigs, bears and assorted animals look up at you from the window display beckoning you to go into this miniscule wonderland. As you push open the door, sunflowers beam at you at the foot. A huge monkey grins at you when you look up – what a plush cushion that makes 🙂
Just then I spotted the perfect gift that I was looking for – a pair of salt and pepper shakers in the form of cows.
“Is that for someone who is born in the Year of the Ox?” the shop owner enquired.
I turn around to see a young lady with long hair smiling at me. Simply dressed in a long-sleeve top and jeans, I realized she was naturally attractive.
“Exactly,” I grinned.
“I knew it. Most people only look for cow-shaped ornaments when they need gifts for those born in the Year of the Ox.”
“Really?” I asked, somewhat amused.
“Hey you look so fit? Do you exercise a lot?”
“Haha. Actually, I’m trying to put on weight.” By now I was used to everyone commenting on the state of my weight.
“Yeah, I’ve some stomach problem lately. Besides, stress plays a big part too.”
“Oh, yes it does. You know what I lost 10 pounds in over just a week last year when I had a big fight with my husband.”
“10 pounds within a week? Wow, that’s drastic!” Frankly, I thought it sounded like an exaggeration but it was not impossible either.
“It’s true. You know, because of the financial crisis and all. It got so bad that in the end I told myself to take it easy, that even if it ends in divorce, so be it. Then, slowly I got better.”
“Ya, we really need to take it easy. But easier said than done, unfortunately,” I chuckled.
“You’re telling me. In a place like Hong Kong, it’s impossible to be stress free!” She laughed.
“What time do you close?”
“No off days?”
“Wow, that’s long hours!”
“Well, that’s normal in Hong Kong, right?”
“Haha. Yup. It can’t be help, I guess,” I quipped. “You know, I really like the stuff in your shop.”
“Then do drop by more often. Do you stay around here?”
“No, in Mongkok area,” I was secretly pleased that my pseudo Hong Kong accent has passed without being detected. Though I have always spoken fluent Cantonese, mastering the Hong Kong accent is another matter. In any case, I wasn’t exactly lying as I was currently residing in a hotel in the Mongkok area 😛
“Oh, still do come by whenever you can.”
I love having such conversations with “real people” in a foreign city. Nothing beats having an insight into how “normal” people live. Looks like city-folks the world over share similar woes and worries.
Sometimes when I am picking out gifts I would often wonder how the lady boss of this little shop on the hill is doing. I would definitely return on my next trip to Hong Kong. I had to leave the shop reluctantly without buying those cute tissue box covers and well, in fact almost everything else, as I had run out of luggage space after my shopping spree!