In 1975, the ICAC imported a tough British copper as one of its 'hammers' to smash police corruption in Hong Kong. The first weekend he was here, he went to Causeway Bay. The detective from the Metropolitan Police found himself in the desperate crush of dim sum seekers and weekend shoppers outside Daimaru department store. Humanity poured along the footpaths like the Yangtze. He was crushed, jostled, left breathless . . . He had a nervous breakdown and the following week went home. I can sympathise with this forgotten victim of Causeway Bay Syndrome. I used to live around the corner from Daimaru; little has changed at pavement level. Did I recognise the elderly beggar working the pavement outside what used to be the entrance to soon-to-be-closed Daimaru? The mendicant was certainly old enough to have been waving his hat at passers-by in 1968. This venerable ancient has a marvellous face, wizened and wrinkled, adorned with a marvellous long beard. Why was this fellow begging? He was sufficiently picturesque to make a living playing a Confucian sage - call Golden Harvest for a screen test, chum, and you will collect more dollars than the passing crowds toss into your grubby cap. The next beggar was a truly pitiable sight. He had no left leg at all and the skinny stump of his remaining lower limb stuck out of his blue shorts. He moaned, kowtowed vigorously, hitting his head on the dusty pavement of Great George Street. The third person on the pitch was a Buddhist nun, banging her bronze bowl, standing in the middle of the footpath while the crowd flowed around her. Do we still have police patrols in Causeway Bay? You have to wonder; I stood around for 15 minutes or so from 4.30pm and there was no blue uniform in sight. However a trio of men in grey uniforms hove into sight. They were Urban Services types and swiftly and quietly made three hawkers pitch their tents and move on. One lot of hawkers had a large collapsible stand; they were selling exercise bikes and other fitness equipment. Others sold barking dogs with electronic flashing eyes. All these people - beggars, hawkers, tourists, pedestrians - are risking their health with every breath they gasp. The stinking atmosphere is choked with fumes. The air pollution count is frightening. Causeway Bay remains a remarkable place, a vestige of Hong Kong's reputation as a shopper's paradise. In Windsor House, where the tax man used to dwell, there are now high-rise shopping malls where hi-tech teenage geniuses sell computers. Their counterparts in Star City in Kowloon and the Wan Chai Computer Centre are notably rude, surly and unhelpful. The Cantonese Bill Gates lookalikes in Windsor House electronic wonderlands are polite, smiling and do not mind explaining the baffling facts of cyberlife to potential customers. The management of Windsor House, however, have a whimsical sense of humour. The toilet was out of order and computer-enhanced signs pointed down a corridor to male and disabled toilets. I followed a man in a wheelchair; at the end of the long corridor we were faced with a flight of stairs. He shrugged, patiently, and sought relief elsewhere. Fighting off fumes, beggars, pedestrians and sternly resisting the temptation of signing up at the exercise bicycle stall, I went down Paterson Street and discovered the delightfully renovated Food Street. In the middle of jam-packed, chaotic, smoggy, grubby Causeway Bay, what a delightful oasis. I had a cup of coffee in a pleasing cafe and viewed the contents of a wine store. Then I went back to Great George Street. The hawkers had set up shop again. The beggars were still there, but the fellow without legs has finished his shift and been replaced by a colleague, this one with only one missing leg. The nun remained, still in the middle of the pavement, and the crowd was thicker than ever. I felt a pang of understanding for the ICAC man who panicked and demanded to be flown away.