Archive | October, 2001

OCTOBER 29, 2001

This past week has been a hard week for some of our very close friends. One of our very good friends grandfather died last week. She was extremely close to him and has had a lot to think about regarding his passing. Then Saturday night another good friends mother died because of cancer…she has even more things to consider. Our hearts go out to both these people and hope they can move on with their lives and find solace in their relationships with other family members and friends.

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OCTOBER 28, 2001

Something sad happened last night…read below:

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Disrespecting the Skateboarding Culture

(Chinese version coming soon)

In the 10 years that I have been involved with skateboarding in Hong Kong, I have always been proud to call myself a skateboarder. I have always been proud to be part of one of the world’s most open-minded cultures, simply because skateboarding is the ONLY sub-culture in the world that treats regular people as well as skateboarders from ALL different races, religions and cultures with respect and understanding. It is unbelievable that just a skateboard (nothing but a piece of wood with wheels), can bring people from every single part of the world together merely through the act of skateboarding streets, parks and cities. For the 10 years that I have been skateboarding EVERY skateboarder I have ever met (Chinese, American, African, Indian, German, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist…the list goes on) has ALWAYS treated each other and those around him/her with respect. Not only do we skate together but we get to educate each other on our own different cultures and traditions.

Here’s an example: I am a Pakistani and a Muslim, and all those skateboarders in Hong Kong who I consider “friends” (Mark, Daryl, Brian, Honby, Lee Hawk, Warren, Hung, Owen…) have always respected my culture, my religion, my color and my background. Because of my religion I cannot eat pork, my friends respect this part of my culture by not ordering any pork when go out to eat dinner together. I am also “straight edge” (which means that I don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke and don’t do drugs) and when we go out to bars or travel together they always help me order non-alcoholic drinks.

This unhindered acceptance of my cultural traditions, religion, and race is the WHOLE REASON that I still skateboard today. To me and thousands of serious skateboarders all over the world, skateboarding has always meant something MORE then just a piece of wood with wheels. It is another sub-culture (just like the punk rock/hardcore culture) of society that is based on treating each and every skateboarder with respect and understanding. We are all bonded by a skateboard and its culture – and that is ALL that matters. NOT your skin color. NOT the way you use your hands to eat food. NOT the way you talk. NOT the way you smell. NOT the way you dress.

So why am I talking about this? A recent incident has left me sad, shocked and embarrassed involving Hong Kong’s own skateboarders…

On a normal Saturday night, I was skating with a bunch of friends at the Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui. As usual, there were at least 100 skateboarders skating around laughing and having fun together. The positive vibes and feelings was similar to almost any time you skate with your best friends – just good fun times. Finally, I went to this one area of Cultural Center where some skateboarders were sitting and relaxing. I was talking to Warren and Hung who were sitting next to a few 13 or 14-year-old Chinese skateboarders who I also knew and have skated with before, and then I noticed an Indian family standing next to a ledge in front of us that we were skating.

The Indian family included a mother, her friend (also Indian), and 3 young boys between 8-11 years old. They were standing in front of the ledge blocking us from skating it, but of course it wasn’t a big deal since nobody was skating at the time, we were all sitting down. We were all laughing having a good time minding our own business, and so was the Indian family having a great time laughing with their children minding their own business. Everything was fine. Then for no reason, I heard one of the 14-year-old skateboarders start screaming the Indian sentence “teri ma ki puddi” at the Indian children in FRONT of their mother. Do you know what the sentence “teri ma ki puddi” means in Indian? It means, “fuck your mother”. It is one of the strongest most disrespectful Indian bad words found in the Indian language. It is EXACTLY the same as “Tiu Lei Lo Mo” in the Cantonese language. I don’t know why he started screaming this sentence, maybe it was because the family was blocking people from skating, but if that was the case why didn’t the skater just ask them to move? Instead, the 14-year-old Chinese skateboarder kept screaming this sentence 4 or 5 times at the Indian children in FRONT of the children’s mother and then laughing! He thought it was funny to tell the Indian children to fuck their mother in their own language. The mother stood surprised, shocked and helpless. She looked at the Chinese skateboarder and couldn’t believe it. Then she noticed me, a Pakistani, and she looked like she was going to cry.

When she saw me I wondered what she thought. She probably thought I taught these Chinese skateboarders this sentence. She probably thought that because of me, these skateboarders were now disrespecting her own children, family and culture in FRONT of her. I felt like crying, but my sadness turned to rage. If the skateboarder was my age I am afraid what I would’ve done to him. I started to yell at the 14-year-old skateboarder – I asked him what problems he had with people from a different culture and race. He could see in my eyes that I was serious and began to apologize to me. To me? Why did he apologize to me? Why didn’t he apologize to that Indian family he just embarrassed! Why didn’t he apologize to that poor 11-year-old Indian boy whose heart he just crushed! Who knows what the little Indian boy must have been thinking! That poor little boy could see that his family was surrounded by almost 50 Chinese skateboarders so what could he do?! Even if he wanted to protect his family and protect his mother, how could he do anything? I remember when I was around 11-12 years old walking around Hong Kong holding my own mother’s hands. I remember the way people looked at her because she doesn’t dress in the Western style – she to THIS DAY dresses in traditional Pakistani clothing. I still remember people laughing at my mother because of the way she looked and because she couldn’t speak English – and each time, there was nothing I could do.

To say this incident is personal – is an understatement.

What makes this worse for me, is that this Indian family live in my building. I see them almost everyday when I’m going in and out of my building. How can I face them tomorrow? I am going to force myself to go downstairs tomorrow morning and apologize to their entire family. I am going to say to them, “please forgive me and ALL skateboarders”. I am going to explain to them that those skateboarders last night DO NOT represent the skateboarding attitude, culture and mind. Those skateboarders represent a typical HONG KONG person’s mind – racist and arrogant. I want to tell her that NO REAL SKATEBOARDER WOULD EVER DISRESPECT ANYONE OF A DIFFERENT RACE OR CULTURE! If the skateboarding culture taught racism, how would I be involved with this culture for the past 10 years?

But what I also want to tell them and her children is that not ALL Hong Kong Chinese people are racist and ignorant. I want to beg her and her children to give Hong Kong Chinese people another chance and NOT to build a wall of negative feelings towards Chinese. I want to tell her this and I am not even Chinese.

When I spoke to another skateboarder friend of mine about this situation he just told me to forget about it. “Aiya Riz, this is not your first time to hear this ma! This is Hong Kong…this is what Hong Kong people are like”. Maybe this is what Hong Kong people are like – but this is NOT what skateboarders are like. I refuse to believe that skateboarders in Hong Kong have ANY negative feelings towards people of other races and cultures. When I came home that night, my skateboard friends Mark and Warren (both Chinese) called me right away to see if I was okay. This kind of friendship and respect for each other is what I want to explain to this family tomorrow morning.

Skateboarding in Hong Kong these past few years exploded into an overnight trend – and like most overnight trends…A LOT OF THINGS HAVE BEEN MISSED OUT AND LEFT UNEXPLAINED. The fault of this young skateboarder is NOT only his upbringing, and NOT only Hong Kong society who STILL believe that racism is NOT a problem in Hong Kong, but also those skateshops in Hong Kong that for the past few years have been promoting skateboarding WITHOUT fully understanding what skateboarding is. To these shops, the skateboarding culture is nothing more then a clothing company and shoes. To these shops, they become exclusive distributors for DC and Zoo York and then separate these companies from the culture that they are a part of. One of Zoo York’s MAIN ideas for t-shirts is to talk about city problems such as racism and poverty. Does the shop that carries exclusive distribution for Zoo York products even care? Of course not – like my skateboarder friend said to me, this is Hong Kong and these shops apathy to society proves that to them skateboarding is nothing but a business.

Skateboarding is a healthy positive lifestyle and culture, next time you see some kid or someone ruining the TRUE image of skateboarding – do something about it. Every single Hong Kong citizen as well as the government already thinks that skateboarders are nothing but useless kids with nothing to do but to go to a park and “play” with a toy. That’s why we have to work together to show Hong Kong what skateboarding is really about – we have to promote the positive image of skateboarding.

Racism and disrespect for other people and cultures does NOT, has NOT and will NOT be part of the skateboarding culture EVER. Remember that.

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OCTOBER 21, 2001

Something sad happened last night at one of Hong Kong’s most special venues (place for bandshows), KIA Studio. Last night while the second band was performing the KIA staff told the band to stop performing for a few minutes. Outside KIA the police had come upstairs because of neighbors complaining about the noise. I believe this was the first time that police had showed up to KIA and therefore it was the first time that police had seen what KIA was doing. It turns out, the police said that KIA holding shows like this is illegal. The show last night was cancelled and everyone was given their money back. KIA as of this morning, does not know what they are going to do and are looking to find a new place to move their studio. They have a few shows coming up and they don’t know where to organize the shows because they will NOT be organizing anymore shows at their studio. It is a tough time for them so please show your support by e-mailing some kind words to them at: [email protected] OR add their ICQ: 78008596. We will miss KIA very much but we are confident that they will find a new place soon and can continue to help Hong Kong’s music community like they have done!!! They are one of the greatest and most ACTIVE organizations in Hong Kong and we will never forget them…

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OCTOBER 20, 2001

I saw something so cool yesterday morning when I was on the MTR going to work. I had to go to my job early yesterday morning so I was riding the MTR along with a bunch of other office-people and some younger primary school students who were on their way to school. Early in the morning if you’re on the MTR you will of course notice how many people are reading the newspaper – its always old people reading newspapers and then some cheap other older people, who don’t want to buy their own newspapers, will be reading the other person’s newspaper. I have NEVER seen a primary school student reading a newspaper because I guess, children in Hong Kong aren’t really concerned about their surroundings. But yesterday morning, I saw a group of primary school students standing in a circle talking to each other and noticed ONE primary school student trying to sneak and read a newspaper that an old man was reading. It was so cool to see! The student seemed more interested in reading about his world then what his friends were laughing and talking about…a true individual!!!

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