Bite the carrot: things aren’t always as they seem

what looks like a small carrot on a plateI ate a carrot this week – or rather, it looked like a carrot but wasn’t. It was actually a tasty dim sum with a custard centre, but I didn’t realize this until I’d bit into it, much to the amusement of my dining companions.

What we see isn’t always what we get.

I’m in Hong Kong at the moment and it’s certainly true of life here. The political complexities of being one country under two systems (both communist and capitalist) mean that the tides that influence Hong Kong’s cultural infrastructure run under the surface – they are there, and profound in their impact, but they can be hard to see if you only look directly at what’s in front of you.

It’s fascinating to have the chance to go a little deeper – to watch the eddies and the currents at play, to hear the different perspectives, each telling you something new. I was talking with friends last night and I explained that every time I meet someone here I get to find out another side to the stories – who would have thought there could be so many angles, so many views?

It is fascinating too to watch people delivering work within such a context. The complexity is not used as an excuse, in fact often the opposite, it’s used as a spur to create more and better work.

It’s got me thinking though. It’s all in the contrast.

I’m looking in Hong Kong but what I really see is my own country in reflection. We may not have such an overt political framework seeking to influence our work, but it is there underneath, for sure. Everything I encounter here is filtered by my own experience in my own location. My thoughts and opinions say more about where I come from than the place I am visiting. They say more about me, than they do about those I comment on.

It’s true of all our interactions, I think.

We see in people a reflection of ourselves. We praise in them the qualities we feel we own and we criticise what we find unpalatable in our own behaviours.

I have little time to reflect here. It’s a busy place and I have a busy schedule, but again it has given me food for thought. Even if some of it is not as it seems.

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