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Eyes to the World . . .

Hong Kong Days
Hong Kong Days
Hong Kong Days

One of the challenges of living in the paradise of a summer in Montauk is that it’s easy to forget the world. For a few particular reasons, however, I cannot turn my eyes away.

Way back in the early ‘90s I went on what would be the first of many trips to Hong Kong - trips that would eventually lead to a one-year residency there living in the area called Happy Valley. On that very first venture, however, while wandering about the City I happened upon a Pro-Democracy rally. Over my time there, I saw many. Each time I encountered these demonstrations my respect levels grew. I have always known Hong Kong as an incredibly prosperous, thriving, and industrious megalopolis. Yet there is a very strong sense of civic engagement and responsibility to organize and express political views. The anniversaries of the Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong ALWAYS drew crowds in Victoria Park — if you like numbers, the reports say upwards of 100,000 for each of the past ten years. And they are willing to fight for their rights.

So, I am not surprised at what’s happening there. Appreciating that Hong Kongers are much more intimately aware of the goings on in Beijing in 1989 and the brutal and horrendous outcome, one must appreciate the great amount of courage to be staging the demonstrations there now. An HK-born friend of mine there regularly sends me videos and photos from the local news outlets. It is not a pretty picture. OnOne of the challenges of living in the paradise of a summer in Montauk is that it’s easy to forget the world. For a few particular reasons, however, I cannot turn my eyes away.

Way back in the early ‘90s I went on what would be the first of many trips to Hong Kong - trips that would eventually lead to a one-year residency. On that very first venture, however, while wandering about the City I happened upon a peaceful march of hundreds of people in what I had to be told was a Pro-Democracy rally. I had no clue what was going on. Over my time there, however, I saw many. Each time I encountered these demonstrations my respect levels grew. I have always known Hong Kong as an incredibly prosperous, thriving, and industrious megalopolis. Yet there is a very strong sense of civic engagement and responsibility to organize for expressing political views that would shame most Americans. The anniversaries of the Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong ALWAYS drew crowds in Victoria Park — if you like numbers, the reports say upwards of 100,000 for each of the past ten years. The park would be filled body-to-body — peacefully. Yet, don’t be fooled: they are willing to fight for their rights.

So, I am not surprised at what’s happening there. Appreciating that Hong Kongers are much more intimately aware of the the brutal and horrendous outcome in Beijing in 1989 , one must appreciate the great amount of courage to be staging the demonstrations there now. An HK-born friend of mine there regularly sends me videos and photos from the local news outlets. It is not a pretty picture. One thing I can see in the videos though, is that while these demonstrators have the most peaceful of intentions, they are not about to stand there, be mowed down & “disappeared.” They are incredibly aware, strategic, organized and they are not easily intimidated. They are very prepared to fight back, and are. Also, Hong Kong is to Beijing like night is to day. There are not the broad, flat avenues for tanks to go rolling through. The population density is nothing most Americans can imagine, the streets narrow, winding, and very steep in places (what most people think of as Hong Kong is like Manhattan on a mountain).

I lived there in 1997, during the Handover. Up to that point, many were leaving for Canada, fearful of what life under a totalitarian Chinese government would be like. Yet for the millions that live there, Hong Kong is their home. They don’t want to leave and they don’t want what they sense is the influence of the mainland government to grow any stronger. As my friend told me, her grandfather has related why he angrily left China for Hong Kong. This struggle is not just a young persons struggle. It is multi-generational.

It’s a rock-and-hard place scenario and I’m fearful of what might happen. For all I know, the unknown little boy I photographed at the rally 25 years ago is now one of the leaders of the democracy movement. Whatever, I hope he, my friends there, and all the people of Hong Kong can somehow find a peaceful resolution to this struggle.e thing I can see in the videos though, is that while these demonstrators have the most peaceful of intentions, they are not about to stand there, be mowed down & “disappeared.” They are incredibly aware, strategic, organized and they are not easily intimidated. They are very prepared to fight back, and do. Also, Hong Kong is to Beijing like night is to day. There are not the broad, flat avenues for tanks to go rolling through. The population density is nothing most Americans can imagine, the streets narrow, winding, and very steep in places (what most people think of as Hong Kong is like Manhattan on a mountain).

I lived there in 1997, during the Handover. Up to that point, many were leaving for Canada, fearful of what life under a totalitarian Chinese government would be like. Yet for the millions that live there, Hong Kong is their home. They don’t want to leave and they don’t want what they sense is the influence of the mainland government to grow any stronger. As my friend told me, her grandfather has related why he angrily left China for Hong Kong. This struggle is not just a young persons struggle. It is multi-generational.

It’s a rock-and-hard place scenario and I’m fearful of what might happen. For all I know, the unknown little boy I photographed at the rally 25 years ago is now one of the leaders of the democracy movement. Whatever, I hope he, my friends there, and all the people of Hong Kong can somehow find a peaceful resolution to this struggle. They are a reminder of the reasons to be extremelhy grateful for where I am right now. And why we must all keep an eye out.

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Ric Kallaher

Ric is: • a Professional Portrait Photographer specializing in working with small business owners towards enhancing their B2B online goals via executive portraits as well as images that tell the story of a business with on-site photography of facilities &/or product photography ; • an experienced Events Photographer who spectacularly documents high end awards shows and high-society special events, especially in regard to the People of Advertising, Media, Arts and Culture. • an insightful image-maker with a detailed eye who helps interior designers bring their work to life. • an award-winning wedding photographer who helps couples document their special day. Ric's Photographic Mission: To artfully create strong, provocative & transcendent visual records of meaningful relationships & significant moments. Additionally, Ric is a trained actor and experienced music producer who has often been heard applying his voice over talents to ongoing advertising campaigns. He has been the voice on national campaigns for the likes of SuperValu Grocery Stores, Texaco, Kendall Motor Oil, Campbell's Soups and more. He has even appeared ON-camera in an ad for Comedy Central as a scream therapist. His is represented by Ann Wright Reps.