HK Alphabet :: O

O :: Oranges

You may see them tucked into a corner on the ferry pier or hidden in the shadows of an alley. Sometimes they sit prominently outside the door to even the most modern, Western shop. But I suspect I miss most of them, on their red plates, in front of urns overflowing with ashes, quietly offered to the ancestors in hope of blessing.

I read once that Hong Kong has the highest per capita consumption of oranges in the world, but I don't know if that's true. If it is, it's certainly due to all the offered oranges. (I do wonder, though, if the oranges have to be eaten in order to count in this statistic. And did they figure in the ancestors too?) (Our neighbor's ancestors seem to be more fond of saltines and cigarettes than oranges. Try explaining to your toddler why there is a pack of crackers on the little altar next door.)

What is true is that I can't imagine a Hong Kong winter without a particular kind of little orange, sold with the leaves attached. I don't know what they officially are called—tangerines? Mandarin oranges? We call them the perfect toddler food—easy to peel, easy to eat, self-separating into little bites. Little jewels of sunshine, every one a gift on those dreary days from December to February.

O :: Octopus

The Octopus is an aptly-named card that allows you to go to work, buy lunch, buy afternoon coffee, get groceries on the way home and not carry a bit of cash, nor worry about losing a credit card. It's an indispensible cash card accepted most eveywhere. As a three-year-old, Finn has proudly joined the ranks of kids wearing their cards around their necks, ready to swipe whenever they get the chance. Our friends discovered the hard way that vending machines accept Octopus, after their son gleefully got Coke after Coke, thrilled with his newfound power. We're trying to keep Finn away from this particular joy ...

1 comment:

L. DeAne Lagerquist said...

O, yes, I recall that Thomas never seemed to have any money on his when we needed to get on the train. Why? because he had used it all on lunch which one can hope might have included an orange!