28th March 2019

Chow Mein and a Half

Hong Kong’s old airport, Kai Tak, was a perilous descent among the skyscrapers and mountains. Even my dad, who is not religious, made the sign of the cross and said ‘Thank God’ when we landed safely. The next thing he did as soon as we exited the airport was to cross the road to the street vendor who made chow mein and bought us all a plate each – I had King prawns, my sisters chose chicken, dad went for special mix. As we waited for the vendor to bag the dishes we heard the noise. It was excruciatingly loud, as four aeroplanes flew out of Hong Kong towards the sea. The ground began to tremble, as did the multi-coloured umbrella which shaded the vendor’s cart. Dad wasn’t too fussy when it came to eating on the street. Many locals ate en route as they were pressed for time. Noodles were not an on the go snack – very messy to eat. Dad didn’t really care. He slotted right back into the Hong Kong lifestyle and picked up the pace of his walk, with suitcase in one hand and noodles in the other; the rest of us fell into line like a row of ducklings following Papa duck to the hotel with our mum at the end. I was concentrating so much to ensure the noodles didn’t ruin my new top that I didn’t see the taxi accelerate around the corner. I would have been flung into the air were it not for my dad using his suitcase to form a gate to fence me in and his full force to push me back. In the confusion of the moment, my half-eaten noodles fell to the floor. My heart pounded. Dad’s quick reaction was a shock to my system. I wasn’t sure if my knees were trembling from fear or from losing half my dish. My bottom lip started to tremble … ‘Don’t cry. You need to look where you are going next time,’ dad scolded gently. He never let us eat noodles on the street after that incident but I never forgot those delicious morsels.