Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
I have often liked to see myself as itinerant and adventurous, as an ethnographer, seeking out exciting corners of the globe to inhabit and understand, in the hope of “making the strange familiar”. But I wonder if this version of myself is really me. Here I am again in Hong Kong, choosing to live in exactly the same building I used to live in during my student days, on Knutsford Terrace in Tsim Sha Tsui. The familiarity I have with this terrace, its bars and its barkers, the pints of cold Stella on a warm evening, chatting with the waiters, and watching the world get drunker, is, on return, rather comforting. I’m beginning a new adventure in Hong Kong, though I have to admit I am glad of the familiar. Perhaps this is really who I am—habitual and cautious? Perhaps now I’m back on the terrace I love, I need to start thinking about “making the familiar strange”.
Benedict Rowlett is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature.