10 December 2014

Finding Family



Some of you who come by often know how I love to photograph senior citizens when I go out on these photo walks with my friend. When I first came to Hong Kong (20 years ago!), I was surprised to see senior citizens mopping the floors at fast food restaurants, collecting carton boxes from the streets… I could not picture my grandparents having to do that.  I had naively thought that all senior citizens are comfortably taken care of by their families.  (Yes, I realize now that I’ve led quite a sheltered life growing up.)

Flat-noodles-(1)

This shot above was taken at noon, presumably one of the busiest times of the day for this tiny corner shop that sells rice noodles and congee, as there were plenty of people waiting to be seated or waiting for their take-out orders.  This old man was on his feet the whole time we were there. He was in charge of making the steamed rice noodles (河粉, ho fun). He was slightly stooped, fingers arthritic, yet he was efficiently turning over sheet after sheet of steaming hot rice noodles, cutting them up, and putting them on a plate to pass on to the server.

I’d stood there fascinated by what he was doing, but I also wondered about his family. Does he have family or is he on his own? Could he be part of the family that owns that place or is he an employee?  Why is he still working at his age?  What he does, while not exactly back-breaking, is not a walk in the park either.  Standing in front of the hot steam, leaning over to spread the sheets of noodle evenly over the cooling rack for long stretches. Working quickly to fulfill orders.  I am hoping that his family of co-workers appreciates him, appreciates what he does. I am praying that if he doesn’t have family of his own, that maybe he can look to the regulars at this small roadside shop, –the ones who address him as ‘Ah Pak’ (uncle), –to be his family. Of sorts. 

(Edit:  It turns out the man owns the place.  I just found out from a friend who used to live around that area and who used to visit the shop.)



15 COMMENTS:

Tamar SB said...

How sweet and touching. I hope he has family or friends who care and support him.

chai-and-chardonnay.blogspot.com said...

Love the picture and the story to go with.Happy to learn that the old gentleman is the owner.

Pieni Lintu said...

Wow, he rocks!

miss-red-fox said...

Mmmhhh, I can almost smell the noodles and I'm getting hungry! But - what a coincidence - my daughter wished Chinese Noodles with chicken and vegetables for lunch today, so will have that in an hour or so :-)

Nicki said...

You are right in how so many of us grow up thinking that everyone reveres their elderly; but too often they are treated more as a burden and less as an asset. He is to be commended on his dedication to providing for his family and the families of his employees by dutifully doing this task day in and day out. Sometimes this comes about because of failure to find another to be as dutiful, other times because it gives the person a sense of still being a contributing part of society/life/family.

I always enjoy your elderly shots and hope you continue with them.

barbara said...

Beautiful picture! Sometimes I find myself wondering about people around me as well... Their histories, their past...

Erica Sta said...

A Story written of the live .... Not at all there is any Family. Most Old People Are alone. It's a good Story and capture for wednesday around the World and this time before Christmas.
Cheers Heidrun

LPC said...

It's a wonderful photo. I do hope someone loves him, and that he works in part by choice.

HansHB said...

A great b&w photo! Love it!
My post: https://hanshb.wordpress.com/

carol l mckenna said...

Fantastic human interest shot in BW!

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

carolina rico said...

oooh!!!! I am so glad he is the owner.... but the truth is that is is not majority and many many old people have to work until they die... that is why family is important, we need to recognize that someday our parents will become our children. Great pic and great caption!

Jill Harrison said...

I really love this image. It is a wonderful shot that really tells a story. It takes me right there. I love the way the steam is in front of him. And the black and white suits it perfectly - as colour would be too distracting. Oh I would love someone to wander around doing street photography with me. I think your location is perfect for it. Not so much where I live.... So often in Asia you see really old people still working...whether for the love of it...or necessity.
Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

aspiritofsimplicity said...

I was thinking as I read that it is sometimes that older people like to be needed and doing something that matters to them.

Leesha said...

I know some older people folks who work to keep themselves alive. Not out of necessity, but to keep themselves busy and moving. Sometimes having a purpose, a job so to speak, keeps you young. :) Great image!

Kim Cunningham said...

Such a great real life portrait! I hope he is on his feet because this is his baby and he just loves it so.

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