SJ導讀：本文來自SJ讀者推薦，原文由來自加拿大的 ex-banker David Zhu先生寫下，講述自身在香港投行紙醉金迷的生活與 “跟大隊” 的迷失：剛到香港時，曾經滿懷希望要創一番事業及成就，但終歸淪為中環那種快餐式物質主義動物，為Party與米芝蓮昂貴晚餐而活。
“Living in Hong Kong as an expat is much more like attending the grand parties of the Great Gatsby, where the crème of the crop of the Ivy League and Oxbridge graduates proudly settle in the most fit-and-proper professions ranging from doctors, lawyers, accountants, to bankers and civil servants, toasting and celebrating the greatness of their own achievements.”
無論是banker，律師，或auditors，他們的一生的 “事業” 就是圍著 “資本” 走。為大財團及有錢佬的數以十億計的投資項目，這些高學歷 穿名牌西裝的專業人士，24/7 隨時候命每日OT 為其服務，報酬就是那些那些大deal豐厚利潤 “手指隙” 流出的餅碎，作為這些金融機構，跨國律師行，會計師行，及其他專業顧問公司的服務費用，然後再每月分派出 HK$40,000 至 HK$300,000 不等的人工，供養著這群中環精英。
簡單來說，這些中環白領精英，為了這HK$40,000 至 HK$300,000的人工，他們完全販賣出自己的時間，靈魂，及生命，以貢獻予自己的公司及客戶。而那些 “keep them going” 讓他們賴以為生的 ，就是像毒品一樣的 work hard play hard motto。
“After all, what is the point of devoting my most productive years to a grand party, only to be handed another glass of champagne, gazing upward to tycoons who will always be tycoons, and dancing alongside white-collars who will always be white-collars.”
最終，作者David選擇離開香港這個 soul-crushing 的華麗大派對，因為他看穿了人在中環的 “Zero social mobility”，以及引伸出的那種人生不可抗力的無奈：
When my colleagues first found out that I was leaving banking for private equity, they congratulated me. After all, moving to the “buy-side” after 2 years of banking was something to be proud of. But when they found out I was leaving Hong Kong for Beijing, their jaws dropped. What??? Are you forreal? The air there is toxic, the food is poisonous, the traffic is suffocating, and the tax is demoralizing. What is wrong with you? Do you hate Hong Kong or something?
No, the truth is, I love Hong Kong. The two years I have spent in Hong Kong are probably the most carefree and purposeless fun I will ever have in my entire life. But I had to go – because something was missing in Hong Kong.
67/F Cheung Kong Center, where I have spent longer hours starring at a computer screen than my entire pre-work life combined.
No, I’m not talking about the work experience of pumping out models and PowerPoint slides like a machine around the clock, or the deal experience of closing cross-border M&A’s to earn bragging rights among fellow bankers, or the travel experience of flying business class with corporate executives from New York and London.
I’m talking about living the Hong Kong-style life, under the neon lights of Lan Kwai Fong, about the materialistic life that makes living and breathing the Hong Kong experience a young bachelor’s must-have in a lifetime. When I boarded flight Delta 173 on August 17th, 2012 from JFK to HKG, the city with the highest concentration of Rolls Royce’s and the most tall buildings in the world, I knew it was time to lay off the gas pedal and just enjoy the ride.
Grand opening party of a new club in LKF, the name of which I can no longer recall. The club closed within a year.
As affluent Hong Kongers are some of the world’s best practitioners of hedonism, you will find yourself quickly blending in the Hong Kong lifestyle around happy hours, dinners, boat trips, birthday parties and other forms of wine & dine experiences. You go from ordinary food establishments like Tsui Wah and SimplyLife to private kitchens and Michelin stars; you start to turn down tourist bars along LKF hill in favor of whiskey bars, cigar bars, sheesha bars, ice bars, dining-in-the-dark restaurant & bars, liquid nitrogen ice cream bars, your friend’s bars, your friend’s friend’s bars, and so on. If you can think of it, it’s there in HK. You find dining & entertainment expenses escalating over your rent in almost no time (particularly if you are male, the gender which always pays). Slowly, your spare capacity goes from planning your life as a great [insert dream here] to planning your next fancy dinner, your next epic weekend, your next marvelous holiday, your next fabulous birthday party… and the list goes on.
Probably the best city view in the world.
Gradually, the comfort and safety of Hong Kong bring you what you’ve always desired – the pure enjoyment of life itself, without having to feel sorry about it because everyone around you is doing the exact same. You don’t see the negativities of society anymore around you. Poverty doesn’t show its faces, crime doesn’t come near you, pollution isn’t broadcasted as a social problem, food safety is almost guaranteed, healthcare services are among the best in the world, and tax is definitely not getting any complaints – if utopia existed, it would look something like Hong Kong Central.
But once you’ve spent long enough time here, you will see that Hong Kong is a concrete jungle not only for its buildings and underground tunnels, but also for zero social mobility. The resulting social structure under these circumstances is not one where everyone is talking about the global power dynamics, debating the benefits and harms of creative destruction, pondering the philosophical nature of the human existence, or even whispering the future of democracy. No. That is not Hong Kong. At least not the Hong Kong I have experienced. Living in Hong Kong as an expat is much more like attending the grand parties of the Great Gatsby, where the crème of the crop of the Ivy League and Oxbridge graduates proudly settle in the most fit-and-proper professions ranging from doctors, lawyers, accountants, to bankers and civil servants, toasting and celebrating the greatness of their own achievements.
Magnum, where film “Lan Kwai Fong” was filmed. Magnum Entertainment listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in January 2014. The offering was over 3000 times oversubscribed. Currently shares trade 50% below its first week’s performance.
But the most mercenary aspect of Hong Kong is the ease of leaving her. During SARS, those who could leave deserted the city and made it a ghost town almost overnight. In the 1990’s (think 89 and 97), those who could afford to emigrate from Hong Kong have all obtained foreign passports, with Vancouver being one of the favorite destinations – and the reason behind my conversational Cantonese having grown up there.
Hong Kong, in this sad existence, is Mr. Gatsby himself. If he dies, no one will be staying for the funeral, because his guests are busy and have got other parties to catch.
Admittedly, for the better part of my 2 years in Hong Kong, I was one of them. I lived my life as a guest in Mr. Gatsby’s party, and I gave my love to every moment I have spent inside his doors. I have been there, standing in the VIP areas of Dragon-I/Volar/Levels/Magnum, on the floor, on the table, on the stage, feeling like I’m with the most important people in the entire world. I have been there, dropping my entire month’s salary hosting parties and treating friends ranging from my future best man to someone I have never even met and will never meet again. I have been there, posting photos of drinking and partying festivities on Facebook to gain popularity and social status, making acquaintances so numerous that deleting them all would probably be faster if I got a new phone and reinstalled Whatsapp.
What to expect on the table on a normal night with a large group of friends who work in finance
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of very successful people in Hong Kong who have found the right balance to achieve happiness across the spectrum of one’s life desires. But your 20’s is meant to be spent in a way to maximize your potentials, and the 24/7 work-party-sleep cycle isn’t exactly “maximizing” – it’s in fact “burning”, eating away the fuel and the drive to reach the dreams you once had.
After an all-nighter at the printer for a company’s IPO. Long hours typically result in a binary lifestyle swinging between extreme work and extreme play.
So as one of the most junior attendees of Mr. Gatsby’s great parties, I have chosen to walk away. After all, what is the point of devoting my most productive years to a grand party, only to be handed another glass of champagne, gazing upward to tycoons who will always be tycoons, and dancing alongside white-collars who will always be white-collars. Leaving Hong Kong was not because it was destroying my body or polluting my mind, but because it was killing who I could be.
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