I am frequently put to shame by a gentleman I scarcely know but have come to admire a great deal. Mr. Luk must be over 70. We first met a few years back at the local park, which I usually abbreviate to LNEC. He wanders about with a small Olympus camera. It has a decent zoom capability and he photographs the bugs and increasingly the birds he sees. He is especially good at butterflies. He arrives early and may have his lunch there at the small cafe. He moves slowly but surely and somehow seems to get extremely good photos. One day he gave me a DVD of his photos. Now I have to say that when his images are blown up on a big screen they lose some of their sharpness. Nevertheless they are invariably well composed, well exposed and perhaps the sensor and maybe a tad of camera shake let them down. Not only had he burned the pictures onto the DVD but he had also set them to music. I didn’t know how to do this until recently. A few weeks ago I was disturbed to see Mr. Luk wandering in the park without his camera. I was worried that he might have lost it, damaged it or was not well enough even to carry his small camera. He seemed happy enough though.
At this point it may have dawned on you that Mr. Luk and I don’t share a common language. He speaks very little English and I speak very basic Cantonese. When we are lucky my wife interprets for us but sometimes she is not present. And thus I was unable to ascertain whether he was without camera through choice or for some more sinister reason.
This Monday we met again and as usual we greet one another like long-lost friends. I am always happy to see him. Still no camera though. I managed to ask him if he had one and he said yes, his Olympus and a Canon. But that was where we lost one another, linguistically. He had a lady friend with him and she was helping him to transfer his pictures from a thumb-drive onto DVD. He was doing the editing and selecting, moving the mouse around and she was supervising I suppose. Sadly she didn’t speak English either. There they were, sitting in the warm January sunshine in the open air, producing the DVDs. He then writes on them and invariably gives me a copy. He did so again on this occasion. He had excellent images of a Blue Rock Thrush. Hai bin doh? I asked him. “Where is that?”. He told me it was taken at Tseung Kwan O, a dormitory town to Hong Kong about 15 minutes away.
At this point I called Mrs. H on the mobile and asked her to check with him where his camera might be. I have, as regular readers will know, a surfeit of camera gear including a rather nice little old (i.e. bought at least 3 years ago) Lumix that I could give him to replace it if were broken. But no, Mr. Luk had simply decided that there were few bugs around in January, they being sensibly tucked up in bed somewhere but he did not want to forgo his regular walks so he simply ambled around and enjoyed the park without his faithful Olympus. Instead it was a good opportunity to catch up with some admin work.
I find Mr. Luk a role model to society. A man who has a passion that he can indulge as often as he wishes, which keeps him healthy I am sure. A man who is clearly eager to learn at a mature age and who shares his joy and enthusiasm with others. Even if he can’t speak their language. He sees no barriers. I have never seen him without a smile on his face. If he has found a good bug or butterfly he will simply take me by the arm and guide me to the place where he took the picture. We can converse enough to know whether he has taken the picture today or not. In a few months time we in Hong Kong, or should I say they in Beijing, will decide on the SAR’s next Chief Executive. The current choice is underwhelming. They would undoubtedly be classified as invertebrates by any zoologist worth his or her salt. If I had a vote, I would put forward Mr. Luk. I suspect he would do more for the common man and the environment than any of the existing candidates. With Lulu as President of the USA and Mr. Luk running Hong Kong I can see a brave new world emerging and a brighter future for us all.
To finish here are two black and white photos from the local town.