Spring rolls, steamed barbecued pork buns, seafood dumplings and steamed beef balls in lotus leaf, these are some of the ‘little hearts’ or dim sum, that so delight Hong Kong residents and foreigners alike. Synthetic containers cannot compete – for the bamboo imparts a flavour of its own to the dim sum, enabling the centuries-old craft of turning out baskets to survive.
Keeping songbirds in ornamental bamboo crafted cages by elderly men with time on their hands is a time-honoured custom that has endured through the centuries. In high-rise Hong Kong pampered birds bring the beguiling song of hillsides and valleys into housing estates and crowded tenements.
When the long working day in the 1960s was over, it was customary for men to savior the ritual and enjoyment of a water pipe. Squatting in the companionable groups, on pavements or street corners, men might share a bamboo pipe and the gossip of the day. Spiked with tobacco, which percolated through water, the bamboo absorbed the nicotine and acted as a natural filter.
The rickshaw entered Hong Kong in the 1870s, a Japanese import that would enjoy decades of popularity before it was eased off the streets by an expanding public transport system, the congestion of traffic, and the discomfort patrons increasingly experienced while being pulled through the streets by old men with tired hearts.