Ode to the People who refuse to be adopted

The people of Hong Kong never fail to surprise me! The more I try to understand the more I am left amazed.

From my 5 years of observations as an outsider, they are mixed bag … a bag worth in gold.

When I arrived here, I saw them engrossed in their mobile screens trying to catch the Pokemon creatures in Victoria park. I thought they were wasted.

I also saw them making streets their homes in the yellow umbrella movement. They stood for each other and stood with each other. I thought they are under influence.

I have seen them faint on a hot summer hike. I thought they are too delicate.

I have seen them in Disneyland holding hands and buying soft toys. I thought they were immature.

I cringed when they take pictures of the food before they eat. I thought they are too digital.

And I have also seen them in Ocean Park on Halloween days, wearing scary makeup. I thought they were too childish.

But I have never the protesting force as shown on 12th June 2019.

And I have never seen greater resilience on 13th June 2019, cleaning the road caused from the riots in spite of the violence shown at them.

Dear people of Hong Kong, you are much more than you are because you have shown the way.

May the force be with you! God Bless.

Tall Buildings and deeper souls. PC SCMP
Crowd making way for an ambulance

These pictures are not mine, but were important to depict the spirit of Hong Kong people.


The customer is never at fault, but who is listening?

The Citibank branch near my house shut down and I wasn’t informed!! Not that I could have done anything but as a courtesy they should have for the brand they are. Any ways Hong Kong is transient so be it HSBC or CITI or salon or PARK n SHOP or even schools you have to move to affordable places.

So one day when I was pressed for money and I needed to find the ATM. Citibank HK has collaborated with JETCO and I had seen the boards at many banks in my lane so I rushed into one of them. Bank of China – I entered the card in the slot and get a bilingual screen saying the ‘processing’. The next second to my horror the interface was in Chinese. Can you imagine that?? There was a cleaner in the room and obviously both of us couldn’t understand each other!!! My heart sunk it was one of those moments when you are so numb but you still act with a reflex (thankfully).

Luckily for me the bank representative arrived, she told me that for the English interface I have make an application to the bank to change the language setting! I was like ‘Thank you very much but my card is in the damned machine can you help me please’ with the most precious twinkle in my eyes. She agreed and my ordeal was accomplished.

This was Bank of China so I thought it was justified for the ATMs to have Chinese interface. I got my money so I was less inclined to investigate further and also my next challenge was waiting for me – to find a taxi!

Then after somedays I was again in the same situation but I thought of trying a different bank – Bank of East Asia. This was a standalone ATM. There was a lady already at the kiosk, probably she was taking a log time so the man ahead of me left muttering something to himself. I felt luck that I was the next in line. Very confidently I entered the card, was happy to see the English processing screen but then again it was the Chinese interface! I got a jolt the same one when you get when you think you are lucky and but in the guise erring the second time! Precisely WTF moment. I turned around to see if there was any angel behind me but I was alone. Now I was truly in deeper mess.

I told myself, not to panic. I am the customer and I can never be at fault! And to my surprise I managed to use the ATM by my own self. Don’t know whom should I thank first my muscle memory, my grey cells or the guiding angles! I was triumphant and now I have the confidence / audacity to use such machines again.

There are many learnings in this story for me as the user, for the bank as the brand, for any UX designer who is sensitive towards such everyday frictions.

Certainly, such scenarios can be avoided but what is the learning when the user has hacked the systems and his triumph is more important than the ideal experience?

BTW, more recently I have found a button for language change … thanks to my son

and what did I buy?

SASA is the most common cosmetics shop chain in Hong Kong. You will see one SASA in 100 meters range. It is so common that it can’t be a landmark!

So my task was to buy cold cream for my little one. As I entered the shop I get bombarded with brand visuals, displays.

There are so many brands under one roof that surely you can spend a whole week trying to discover new ones. Obviously I had / have never heard of these brands and so I was perplexed what to buy.

Suddenly like it happens in TV commercials 🙂 my mind raced back to my childhood days when we used to put liberal amount of cream on the lips almost to have white masked lips. Then it went back to my teenage days when I had seen my cousin use the same cream for my nephew. And the most recent memory I had was of case study in MICA MDP class.

All summed up I bought Nivea for my babu 🙂 in the original blue tin box. This decision superseded my choice on Johnsons because of the adverse media reports in India.

It is thick cream so it is not easy to spread unlike the new versions of it.

But it doesn’t matter, as I left the shop it made me think ‘who is at loss?’

Just like human relationships, building brand relationships is so important. It all comes in full circle if you are genuine.