Ngo Mai Lou Cryptogram

The meaty gweipo complete slippery scolds assailant aplenty

The meaty miasma of North Point’s postcard avenues, where Big-Leaf Fig bases are painted gweipo white, and a security guard languidly engages in a funeral-paced Gong Fu fracas, complete with two-by-fours forearm-blocked, arms that tumble & cross when they kiss the slippery cement, as a fancy-booted LV handbag-bearing bureaucrat, his gold umbrella aquiver, scolds the crook, and heel strikes echo down an oily alleyway as kaai hai tos punctuate the assailant’s escape, a minor spectacle superseded by the spicy scent of laat chui tseung plopped aplenty atop semitransparent, green-onion seasoned, steaming wontons, insignia of slowpokes.

Sharps, artistes, bhaiji, baksheesh, chai-wala alchemy

The heady odor in Chungking’s crowded cinematic arcades, where tidy tailors, SIM-card sharps, grey-market merchants, flophouse pornographers, catholic procuresses, sweets artistes, pokerfaced financiers, hash & charlie architects, and curry-house touts contest, Ji, Angrez bhaiji, at the scarlet heart of the dispossessed narcotic wonder maze for blessèd bloodstained baksheesh, a tumultuous overture stilled by an openhanded thumb to sternum as an idle nod to the chai-wala promises the sweet & salt science silence of Vada, Tukdi, and Khulfi, exultant high-tea alchemy.

The Laam Mui ng goi ah salutes epic congregation

The Laam Mui & Marlboro tinge & tang humanly heralds Sheung Shui Cooked Food Market’s lyrical clamor, clatter, & clang, where commonplace politesse, Ng goi, pang jao, ng goi ah, salutes the secular Gon bui ceremony of chopstick-transected bicker & banter, a chitter & chatter trafficked in Putonghua, Guandonghua, Hakka, & Hoklo, indigenous tongues cavorting, an epic congregation in Holy roar, ha & hai, shrimp & crab, a ga yau rabble Babel add oil communion.

Pyramids of oranges gaai hustling

The sandalwood breaths from countless Mong Kok backstreet altars, balancing pyramids of oranges for ancestors, camouflage open kitchen-sewer mashes of oil, skin, and bone while tourists gawkily wrangle over “I’m Lost in Hong Kong” T-shirts metres from too-perfumed gaai hustling hell-house entries, lusty cyclorama to Sinigang and Sizzling sisig, adobo abode of ardor.

Dulcet passerby magic

The dulcet coconut cores commingling with loud lemongrass and laughing hot-fruit, aromatic palimpsest pushing passerby to quickstep, Fai di laaa, hawker and haberdasher into any of many Kowloon City ran xahar, magic proscenia to Kai jeow and Khao soi, sunrise to sanity’s revelries.

Bloom in the troupes

The pure surrender of belonging’s boom bloom in the uncalculated cosmopolitanism of a Canton banquet, Sik faan, Globe of tastes and troupes, perpetual polyvocal trove, baby-smile baptism.

Heung Gong

Fragrant Harbor, playhouse polyphony sense-citadel, empyrean promise of great-grandma grins.

Jason S. Polley teaches comics, literary journalism, experimental criticism, and Indian English fiction at Hong Kong Baptist University. His publications include the books refrain and cemetery miss you