define an egg as a person of European descent with their hearts pumping to Asia’s rhythm. However, it takes more than a rapt fascination with the continent, or part of, to earn the title of Egg. Authentic Eggs, like myself, are a confused bunch – not complete egg white, nor totally yolk. But, in my opinion at least, like a nutrient-filled, deliciously poached yolk, the heart of the Egg is what sets them apart.
I was born and raised in a little place called Hong Kong, an island under China that you may have heard of and of all the twenty-seven years of my life it took me about nineteen of them to realize what I was. Many would place the label expat brat firmly on my forehead, and to some extent that is true. Even I believed it. But here is the difference: An expat brat comes from expat parents – job seekers looking for the best opportunity out there, stay a couple years then bugger off back home. Home being the key word. I on the other hand, am a born and bred Hong Konger whose only known home is the island - a thirty minutes ferry journey from the city. Therefore I can say with confidence that I am not an expat brat…I am simply a brat.
To continue I would like to share some experiences of mine that gave birth to the conclusion that I am an Egg.
“Wow, you’re from Hong Kong? So you speak Japanese or something and know kung fu?”
That is precisely correct. I also carry around a packet of bamboo snacks to distract any rogue and/or rabid pandas that roam the country. Oh, and Jackie Chan comes over for dinner every Saturday.
For three years while I was at university in the UK this was the common response to where I come from. Either that or “No, seriously… where are you from… I mean… where are your parents from… Ah! OK it makes sense now.. so you’re South African.” Considering I’ve been to the country once for a total of 11 days I’d prefer to answer no, I am not.
Towards the end of my three-year stint I became a liar. A big fat liar. Instead of answering Hong Kong, I’d say I’m English, an hour from London. Unless of course if I were talking to a beautiful female, then it was all about the kung fu, pet pandas and Jackie Chan connections.
Like I said, a big fat liar.
“Mate, that’s wicked. I know this really good all you can eat Chinese!”
In Hong Kong, our 7-11s do a better job than those westernized ‘restaurants’. Meanwhile, I dig into my fourth portion of sweet and sour wings and a handful of prawn crackers. What can I say? They are enjoying the cardboard-covered-in-sauce experience so much that I don’t want to ruin it for them. And besides, what kind of man travels halfway across town so they can eat the food they ate last week? That being said, a part of me is always on the look out for the inevitable Chinatowns that are bound to show up at some point. There’s no better way to shovel food than a good ole
CHAR SIU FAN
“That will be 15 pounds, please.”
Are you kidding me? That was a 47 second taxi ride.
“So what’s it like growing up over there, must be strange, right?”
I honestly don’t know how to answer this question. When I ask the same thing they respond with a single word – normal – which is the exact same word I would use. I suppose I should create a list to help me explain what is normal for me:
Six feet tall is tall… until I go on holiday. Then I’m short and not good at basketball any more.
When I’m given a fork instead of chopsticks I feel insulted.
Glares from old ladies on the subway.
Developing a false sense of importance because the locals think I am a rich tourist.
Learning how to barter but sucking at it all the same. “Ok, you win.” translates to “You’ve lost.”
Calbee over Walkers. Anyday.
Hotpot and karaoke are options – as long as there is enough alcohol.
Speaking of alcohol – 7-11, drinking in public, parties… on a boat.
Anything less than 10 degrees is hibernation season.
My accent has not been given a name yet, unless mongrel has won the vote.
“So you’ve been here twenty years? You must speak Chinese!”
After learning the intricate details of becoming a pathological liar in the UK, I returned to study in HK. My experience in England acted as a small ringing sound, like a drowning alarm, to my subconscious. It told me that I was not quite as Western as I thought. My friend groups were made up of internationals. I played basketball with my Chinese brothers on the weekends and I stockpiled Vita Ice Lemon Tea cartons like it was December 2012.
University life in HK was vastly different to the one I was used to. That’s when the question changed.
I was and am thoroughly embarrassed whenever I needed to create an excuse as to why my only spoken, written, reading language is English. It took some time for my classmates, and especially the lecturers to come to grips with this. The professors would look around the room every start of class, a big smile on their face until they saw me. The smile vanished quicker than Mr. Miyagi could snatch a fly out of the air with chopsticks. They knew with me they had to speak English.
It was these experiences (and many more) that allowed me to reflect on the person I was. Here and there, Caucasian and Asian, chopsticks and forks, noodles and spaghetti. I am an egg, a rare breed of human that can fit into almost any social circle because of his unique background (European descent and Asian upbringing). However, at the same time this egg can never fully relate to the local Chinese man, nor the “lets go down to the pub” Englishman. Eggs are comfortable with other eggs because of what they have in common. That “thing” they have in common is not only among eggs, it is within all the other wondering wanderers of the world that do not belong to a city, country or continent but rather to the world itself.
Our parents were pioneers, and so are we.BW
My name is Bradley Wayburne. I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was shipped off to university in Newcastle, England. From there I returned to my homeland and attempted to start a career.
Nothing worked (Or I didn’t) so I traveled a bit in Spain which led me to my passion in life – telling stories. I enrolled in a film school on a holiday island in the Philippines. After my arduous experience on the white sand, coconut-abundant beaches of the island I was once again sucked back to Hong Kong.
I started a photography studio to supply a meager income, and I fill my spare time writing scripts and other such stories. I do not have a favorite color.