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Something new: out of the extraordinary

Vanessa Yung

 

Former South China Morning Post journalist Chloe Lai Wing-sze's Urban Diary project might be more accurately described as a catalogue of encounters with colourful Hongkongers - the ordinary, the eccentric, even the heroic.

For Lai, the kind of everyday stories she uncovers are what gives Hong Kong much of its vibrancy and diversity, while the people she interviews, she says, are crucial to a thriving future for the city. Her web-based journal, www.urbandiarist.com, which was commissioned by architecture firm The Oval Partnership, "begins with the belief that people, more than anything else, determine the level of sustainability of cities".

Many of her subjects, she says - from the urban farmer to the female drummer at the male-dominated traditional Tai Hang Fire Dragon dance and the flash-mob street artist - inject colour into Hong Kong's often uniformly capitalist society.

Others - such as the civil engineer who repairs roads and bridges at night and the late-night bus driver, both of whom featured in Lai's April issue - are among the city's "unsung heroes".

"All the interviewees are ordinary people," says Lai. "We walk past [them] without realising their brave attempts to make Hong Kong sustainable.

"We document the interviewee's way of life … in order to promote the different faces of Hong Kong."

The diary is currently only available online - although Lai hopes to produce a print version at some point - and offers multimedia components such as a recording, in May's edition, of sounds heard on Tai Yip Street, in a renascent Kwun Tong.

In the June edition - Lai's seventh - readers can learn about a retired engineer who now produces upmarket hi-fi equipment - a passion that goes back to his childhood, when he would roam Apliu Street, in Sham Shui Po, looking for parts with which to build mini radio sets.

 

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