|Not my train . . . but it sure looks cool, doesn’t it?|
MY ADVENTURE IN HOMELESSNESS
I was homeless for a few days when I wrote the “Sleepy Prophet” poem. I was in Hong Kong trying to renew my China visa. I had been in another Northern China city, trying unsuccessfully to find work. And, of course, most companies did not wish to bother offering me a China work visa according to what I needed. I couldn’t return to North Turtle Island (Canada) due to lack of funds. What to do? Someone told me that if I go to Hong Kong, the China visa office could provide me a new visa the same or next day. I thus planned to arrive on a Wednesday night, order my visa on the Thursday, get my visa on that day or Friday, and then take another train back to North China the same day.
So on the Monday afternoon, I borrowed a couple hundred bucks from a friend, just enough to get me there and back, and maybe pay for hotel, food and transportation for a couple days. I took a 47 hour train down to HK. Hard seat. Crowded in with a ton of other people. People who didn’t look that rich. But we had a good time. It was like a travelling party! I got to hear a lot of people’s stories, and improved my Chinese to boot!
NIGHT 1 (WEDNESDAY): COLLEGE OUTDOORS STAIRWELL
Hardly got any sleep. When I arrived in HK, I rode the subway directly to the China visa office, intending to sleep in line until morning. Upon reaching the office, I realised that it wasn’t a good place to crash for a night, so I proceeded to find another place. I had found one cheap hotel on Internet, but it was too far to walk to so late at night.
So I found a college nearby and searched for a suitable place to crash. No such fortune. So I spread some of my backpack’s clothes on an outside stair’s flat area and proceeded to sleep.
Splotch! A drop of water landed on my face after I had only been there for a few minutes. Splotch!!! again. I wearily got up and found I was caught in a tropical downpour. Quickly gathering my junk, I ran and ran through the night, finally stopping at an all-night taxi restaurant. I went in, sat amongst the cabbies, ordered the cheapest bowl of noodles and slowly dried off a smidge.
Crap! I paid 3 bucks (expensive according to Chinese standards) for a bowl of 20 cent instant noodles! Oh well . . . beggars are never choosers, are they? Trying to compose myself, I was amazed to find that I felt kinda happy. Coz it was an adventure. I love adventures, whether bitter or sweet. Well, the TV was on in the restaurant, showing a soap opera. A man had been cheating on his wife and she was devastated. As my own wife had left me a couple years before, I felt like someone invisible was torturing me even as I was trying to find serenity in the midst of a late night, dirty Hong Kong taxi restaurant.
I finally left after an hour and wandered the wet streets until Thursday morning. Arriving at the China visa office, I eagerly proceeded to fill out the necessary forms, hoping for that coveted visa that would allow me to stay in China for a least a few months. An officer who was giving out info to all arrivals told me to go get a cheap photo in the machine over there, so I did. I lined up, and after 20 minutes got to the counter. Fine, fine, fine, all my papers seemed to be okay.
“So, when would my visa be ready?”
“Come back on Monday.”
“Uh, I was told that I could get the visa the same day.”
“Sorry, we can’t process it that fast. Come back Monday.”
Wo de ma ya! I couldn’t believe it! Now I was doomed to stay in Hong Kong for a few extra days!
I dejectedly walked out of the China visa office wondering what to do. Where was I to stay? Even the cheapest hotels were so expensive!
A letter to my finance:
亲爱的 (My dear)， 谢谢你关心我 (Thanks for caring for me)。。。很漂亮的照片儿呀 (What a beautiful photo)！！！！但是我肚子显得很胖的，是不是 (But my stomach – in the photo – seems very fat)？？？？？？？？
。。。 我现在在香港 (I’m in Hong Kong now)：– 在火车里，因为我那么多爱老外的人， 所以我过的时间非常好玩儿 (in the train, because their were so many people who love foreigners, I had a great time) 。。。– 我昨天八点到了，在一个学院的外面睡觉了一个小时， 然后突然的倾盆大雨 (I arrived here at 8 pm last night, slept outdoors for one hour at a college, then it poured rain) 。。。哇！那时候跑到一个餐厅吃面条，去中国办签证办公室门口坐下了睡觉几个小时 (oh man! Then I ran to a restaurant and ate noodles, then went to the China Visa Office entrance door to sleep a few hours) 。。。起床了以后，去过洗手间，用塑料平子为了倒水在身体上，洗澡了(when I got up, I went to the bathroom, used a bottle to splash water on my body to wash myself) 。。。刮脸了(shaved) 。。。洗头发了 (washed my hair) 。。。换了衣服 (changed my clothes) 。。。– 俩手机都没点了(both my cell phones have no batteries)！在这儿他们的充电插空儿跟大陆不一样，而且我没有香港电话服务，真抱歉 (here there electrical outlets are different than Mainland China, and I also don’t have Hong Kong mobile service, so sorry)！– 最快办签证就是能周一上午拿到了，府470港币 (the fastest to process my visa they can do is next Monday morning, paying 470 Hong Kong dollars)。。。。给我最长的时间：30天，我的妈呀！不到我七月份儿，十七号起飞到温哥华的日子, 上帝求你来帮助我呀，哈哈哈 (giving me the longest stay: 30 days, mama mia! until my July 19 flight to Vancouver, Yahweh please help me, hahaha) 。。。。– 哇， 真好玩儿， 这就是我梦中的冒险 (oh, what fun, this is my dream adventure)！！！！我要听圣灵的声音与墨香他的话语， 过这三天常常依靠他 (I will listen to the Sacred Spirit’s voice and meditate on His word, I’ve been relying on Him these past 3 days)！！！！我要为你祷告， 你也能花一点儿时间为我带祷吗， 我宝贵的女英雄 (i will pray for you, could you spend a bit of time praying for me?, my precious female hero) ！！！！多谢！！！呕， 这儿是香港商贸什么什么中心 (ah, here is the Hong Kong Trade D~~~~ Centre with the free Internet service)（http://gbcode.hktdc.com/han3/2/1/1/0/0/0/0/infocentre.hktdc.com/chi/index.htm）免费上网。。。我爱你,宝贝儿 (I love you, baby) 。。。。Dimitri。。。。
HOW THE HADES DID I SURVIVE?
Well, here’s how I managed to stay alive, homeless in Hong Kong, for those fateful days:
– I hung out at the Hong Kong Library all day long and read tons of books. I tried to doze off, but a young library staff member who was walking around told me I couldn’t sleep there. I read Niall Ferguson’s Empire, as history of the British Empire, a book on ceasing to swear, and various, sundrious other goodies. It was comfy, but Hades . . . I wished I could find somewhere to sleep!
– I found one cheap restaurant on the 2nd floor of a shopping centre right beside the China visa office. Breakfast was served all day for pretty cheap. So I went there every morning.
– I survived on apples and tea eggs. Water fountains were everywhere, so I just loaded my thermos with more H2O every few hours.
– At the Hong Kong HKTDC Biz InfoCentre , not too far from the China Consulate, I could use Internet for free. In those days, I had a finance in North China, a wonderful Chinese girl, whom I hoped to marry. So I sent her updates and romantic poems through email. This sense of love encouraged me immensely, and helped me continue slugging it out in the trenches of Hong Kong. Just to get the visa, and return to my sweetheart . . .
Here was one email I sent to my finance and my good Russian friend:
hi Shania and Stanislav / and HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SORRY I’M NOT THERE………….MAY STANISLAV CAN TAKE THE SUBWAY TO GIVE YOU A BIG KISS FOR ME, HAHAHAHA 😉 (can you, Stanislav?????????)
well, here’s a fake Internet kiss for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MY NEWS: ….i’m in Hong Kong Business InfoCentre surfing the Net, my Frenemy, for free, hehehe….arrived by train to Shen Zhen last night, ate some food then took subway to HK….slept at a college grounds under trees for a couple hours until it POURED rain (Chinese: qing pen da yu 倾盆大雨) then i went to a small restaurant with all the noisy HK taxi drivers for noodles…then i slept on the pavement in front of the China Visa office door…then i woke up and showered with a bottle of water in a nearby shopping centre bathroom…then i ate a small fast food place and bought coffee at starbux…then i went to the Visa office at 9…they’ll only give me max 30 days, so i will pay 470 HK dollars and pick it up Monday when it’s ready (the fastest process, they said!!!)
I will pray to Yahweh to help me survive in HK until then….
AMERICAN ECONOMY, OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Stocks-extend-plunge-on-apf-892184148.html?x=0
PRAY PRAY PRAY FOR THE U.S. AND SEND THEM GOD’S KISSES SO HE CAN SAVE THEM AND US TOO!!!!!
your brother for Stanislav
your lover for Shania
NIGHT 2 (THURSDAY): IN A HOTEL BATHROOM
The 2nd night I went to a cheaper hotel I had found on the Internet. However, after hiking there for an hour, I found the price was triple the cost quoted online due to recent renovations and upgrading. Shart outta luck!
I then tried to go into a 5 star hotel and sleep in their locked bathroom, just as I had seen Will Smith and his son Jaden do in a subway station washroom in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. But after 30 minutes, someone was banging on the door. Out again. Couldn’t sleep on one of those comfy hotel lobby chairs, coz there were staff everywhere .
So I ended up barely sleeping at all that night. Just wandering around the streets of Hong Kong in the lonely, early morning hours. I saw a McDonald’s, and went in to see if I could sleep there. After all, in my city in North China, McDonald’s allowed homeless people to sleep there. Many were out-of-towners who came to the big city to find work. Some were running away from a bad home situation, or their own misdeeds and bad reputation. Some had mental problems. All of them could not afford the expensive housing in the big city.
I once asked people why McDonald’s allowed the homeless to sleep there. Someone answered that a McDonald’s manager in Shanghai had been shouting at a homeless man to leave and ended up getting stabbed and dying. So McDonald’s wisely and mercifully began allowing the homeless to find refuge on the restaurants hard seats. Better than being outside in the cold of winter or the heat of summer.
I had been hanging out with some of these homeless people for a few weeks, and really learned to appreciate them. I also got a glimpse of their extremely difficult lifestyle. Now, in Hong Kong, I got my chance to be homeless like them, at least for a few days.
NIGHT 3 (FRIDAY): IN AN EMPTY LOT UNDER A SHEET OF PLYWOOD
After walking another hour, my feet were killing me. My heavy backpack didn’t help. I finally found a fenced off lot with a large tree on it. There was some flat sheets of wood covering something. I jumped the fence and slept under the plywood as it poured rain. I woke up a couple hours later due to the rain keeping me awake through its intrinsic wetness and frackin’ loud noise.
Again, wandering around. I walked up to where the Hong Kong Library was and tried to wash myself in the sports complex washrooms nearby. Fun, fun, fun!
NIGHT 4 (SATURDAY): KOWLOON WALLED CITY PARK, PART 1 – ON THE LAWN
The next day, I was getting damned fed up with sleeping in the friggin’ rain, outside, exposed to the elements, and not really sleeping at all. I found a cheap hotel on the Net, and subwayed it there. It was dark, and there were many people crowded around on the noisy street. It was actually looking a tad dangerous.
An East Indian or Pakistani dude came up to me and asked if I needed a room. I answered him in a Mumbo-Jumbo nonsense language:
“Puka dedi kan wakka wu tan shaka mu wanna?”
“Oh, oh, you speak Spanish. Just wait here for a moment, I’ll go find my friend who speaks Spanish.”
So he ran out to get his friend. Before he could return, I walked over to the building where the hotel was. I guess the hotel was only on certain floors, rather than taking up the entire building, as I had seen in 2007 during the Chinese Spring Festival in Shanghai. But the lobby and street really were looking, as the Brits say, dodgy. I mean, outright dangerous. Pimps, hookers, druggies, shart! . . .
So I said to myself, “I ain’t staying here”, and took off. Where was I to go?
On the way back to the subway, I remembered the hotel where I, my ex-wife and son had stayed at in Kowloon. I looked at the map, then proceeded to ride the subway there. I remembered that there was a huge, beautiful park near the old, abandoned Hong Kong Airport. This park, now called Kowloon Walled City Park (九龍寨城公園), is situated where the old Walled City had been for decades.
The Walled City was a several story series of delapitated buildings packed together and covering a huge area. Both British and Chinese governments had ignored it for years. Squatters lived there, then alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, and pimps, and then eventually the gangs took over. It was a dangerous place. But it had all been torn down, and a lovely park was there now in its place.
So I found a walled area there (perhaps #8 on the map, the Chess Garden) and decided my next move. I didn’t want to sleep in the open, because who knows . . . someone could knife or rob me . . . or both. Since I was practised in elementary Parkour, the exciting athletic sport similar to outdoor gymnastics, I easily climbed over walls. On the other side, I found some beautiful, soft lawn with bright green grass, glistening after the last few days of rain. I proceeded to go to sleep. Praise Yah, no rain that night.
Next morning, I felt good. Real good. It was Sunday morning. It was the first good sleep I had enjoyed since I had left North China the past Tuesday afternoon. But, hey, wait: I was itchy all over . . . What the Hades?!?*@? I had bug bites all over my body. I proceeded to the huge public WC (washroom) beside the park and looked in the mirror. My face, neck and everywhere were covered in bug bites. Shart! Oh well, I mused, at least I had had a great sleep, if even it was only for 4 hours. I began to wash myself with a wet paper towels, hand soap and the tap. Only one old man, who was probably outside practising Tai Chi in the early morning sunlight, came in, and thankfully when I was not mostly naked.
NIGHT 5 (SUNDAY): KOWLOON WALLED CITY PARK, PART 2 – ON CONCRETE
That evening I decided that I was a good idea to find a hotel. Maybe I could afford it for a couple nights. At the Hong Kong Business Centre, not too far from the China Consulate, I could use Internet for free.
On the Sunday night, I went back from the huge library in Central Hong Kong and went into the park again. This time, it was pouring. Sheeee-at, why was HK like my hometown of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, North Turtle Island (Canada)? A bloody rain forest! Without the forest! I found a pagoda like structure, open, with four pillars and thankfully a roof, and proceeded to lay out newpapers and my clothes on the concrete floor. One rolled up shirt was my pillow. I used my light summer jacket as my blanket, if only for half my body. It was indeed a bit chilly. Torrential rain was blowing in from the sides, but I managed to stay half dry.
Zzzzzzz, I slept fitfully for at least 3 hours.
2 am, I felt someone kicking my feet.
In Cantonese: “Eh???? What are you doing here?”
It was the night watchman. Dang!
I slowly, groggily packed up my stuff and walked with the security guard to the gate, explaining my situation to him in Mandarin. The 50-something-ish guard was quite nice. He spoke in Cantonese and I could at least get the gist of what he was saying. And he understood my Mandarin. The guard was not angry, simply very very surprised to see a white guy sleeping in an open pagoda behind tall walls in a park in Hong Kong. He saw me off at the gate, and I sleepily proceeded to the WC to wash up.
Another tap. Hoping again an elderly man wouldn’t come in as I sponge-bathed my dirty, sweaty body with many, many wet paper towels spotted with hand soap. Clean again! . . . sorta . . .
My letter to my finance on that day:
hi, i’m at HOng Kong Central LIbrary again, using Internet….sorry i got here too late so i didn’t see your email. but i prayed for you this morning in my new chinese prayer journal…..life is interesting here…i’m trying to find a youth hostel for my last night here instead of sleeping outside, but the 2 hostels yesterday weren’t okay: one i spent looking for for 1/2 hour and couldn’t find it (no sign outside on the street!!!) and another was in a very busy area with strange chinese and foreigners walking up to me to try to pull me to do s.t. (something). one pakistani or indian looking man came so i talked in “tongues” to him….he said, “is that spanish?” and went to get his spanish-speaking buddy…i was scared that they were going to sell me some evil things or lure me to a call-girl, so i quickly crossed the street…this is not a good city….today i saw a christian sign saying “Jesus loves you” on a store door, and yesterday a tall building has huge letters proclaiming “Yesu shi ZHu”…but my Vancouver friend who lived here told me that 80% the people here have an income of only 1000 Canadian per month ….and this is a VERY expensive city…for ex, one typical plate of food is 30-50 RMB…..my friend also told me that 1/2 the people are in government subsidised housing, so they cannot afford the high housing prices….who’s helping the poor??????
anyways, more and more i’ve been thinking about:
– you, and how we can compliment each other / fit together
– I’ve tried calling my son in Canada, but no answer
– Stanislav my faithful friend
– my mentuuuuuzzzzz [friends & students] at the restaurant with an ugly yellow sign [McDonald’s]
– how i can feel closer to God, because now i pray and read the Bible a lot but have no feeling….oh well, sometimes no feeling is really necessary….
– how i can get work in our city in North China fast fast fast)))))))) i need money! – i was meditating on 我求你两件事，在我未死之前，不要不赐给我：求你使虚假和谎言远离我；使我也不贫穷也不富足，赐给我需用的饮食。恐怕我饱足不认你， 说：耶和华是谁呢？又恐怕我贫穷就偷窃， 以至亵渎我神的名 (DON’T MAKE ME RICH OR POOR (PROVERBS 30:8-9 – “8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. 9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name”) 。。。。。
– how to make SMILING my new vision and plan for life…..HK people in general do NOT smile…everyone except kids and a few 服务员 seem to have an angry look, just like South Koreans….i think this is the result of HK being under those money-worshipping British for so many years (and So-Koreans under the Americans)….years of money-worship will kill anyone’s joy….and THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!!!!!!
love you, you are the best,
please pray and research how to
conquer your you-know-what
(i have the same problem
NIGHT 6 (MONDAY): SHENZHEN, GUANGDONG PROVINCE, CHINA
So finally on the Monday, I went to the China visa office and received my visa. But as I looked upon it in anticipation it said I had 28 more days in China. What???!!!??? I knew that this is what the counter clerk had told me last Thursday, but I thought (maybe because of my charming smile) I could at least get 3 months! The Vancouver China Consulate had given me 3 months, so what was this all about? I angrily, disappointedly stalked out of the visa office. Reality bites!
Having partially recovered from my deep disappointment, I remembered that I was now free from my “Homeless in Hong Kong” soap opera episode and brightened up. Yes! I was free!
I subwayed it to Shen Zhen. At the China border, I even met some friends from my hometown in North Turtle Island. What a coincidence! I then tramped around beautiful Shen Zhen on the China side for awhile, first aiming to find a cheap hotel. I took the subway to the middle of town, exited, and wandered the streets looking for my new haven.
Alas and praise Yah, I found an inexpensive dig for only $10 per night. I then showered, re-clothed myself and quickly took off again, looking for food and some new shirts. I found some Muslim Chinese food at a great local Hallal restaurant, run my representatives of China’s 12 million-strong minority called the Hui. This group is made up of the descendants of Turkish, Persian and Arabic traders who came up the Silk Road, intermarried with Chinese while sticking to their own religion, settling in as permanent new citizens of the Middle Kingdom. Love that food: it sort of tastes like Greek or Lebanese. And the servers are always friendly.
I bought a polo shirt and some power detergent, and ventured home to hand wash all my clothes for a couple hours. After hanging up my wet clothes all over the hotel room and turning on the fan full blast, I proceeded to sleep and sleep and sleep . . .
Ah, I was in Heaven. The next day I went out to buy a soft sleeper back to North China. I got on the train and slept and slept and slept . . .
MY DEFINING MOMENT
Many people have a situation in their lives that they would identify as their Turning Point. I wish I could say that this was mine. I did change many of my bad attitudes, yes. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had only only Turning Point or Breakthrough. I have had many, many, many. And nowadays, 2 summers later, I look back to my “Homeless in Hong Kong” as a defining moment.
It is my motivation to continue loving poor people. It is my drive to get myself and my family out of poverty, and to help others to do so also.
That’s why I am studying for my Life License in order to run a business with a wonderful company, selling mortgages, all kinds of insurance (term life, whole life, universal life, disability, accident and sickness – A & S, critical illness, business, group, travel, etc.) and investments (RRSPs, RESPs, GICs, Segregated Funds, Mutual Funds, Annuities, etc.). I plan to make tons of money, working hard, recruiting others for the business, building a team or several teams, and starting up several offices. Making a difference, focusing on the shrinking middle class (and sometimes the Upper and Lower classes).
That’s why I am encouraging others and also myself to plant Messianic Movements all over Turtle Island (North America) and the world.
That’s why I am inspiring others and myself to start movements of Liberationism, a political philosophy that is religiously neutral but very pro-social justice, but without the handouts the Left so likes.
Well, that’s the story behind the following poem. Note that:
– the 1st paragraph is about me in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City Park on my first night
– the 2nd and 3rd are about all the folks in North China sleeping in McDonald’s
– the 7th is about all the hard benches and noisy restaurants I and many homeless have had to endure
POEM: SLEEPY PROPHET
Last night I slept on
Tomorrow I sleep in
Hopefully no ants will
crawl on my ass
If I could help it,
Sleeping souls, sleeping in death
Like the corpses lying
on the fields after
exhausted soldiers have
fled the scene
Sleeping, sleeping, ready
for a touch
LIFE . . .
Most ignore them
They are the hidden
They are the
Clutched in desperation
More will join them
10 soldiers per day
will drop their
rifles into the
And jump into the
even when it’s not
Life is painful
even when u r
in the process
of healing . . .
Benches are hard
the restaurant is
We are the suffering
excepted by those
whose pain is
equal to ours
Some say pain is a poison,
but I say that
TRAINER . . .
The world will not
wait for u.
I am tired. I am exhausted.
Pain is real.
© Dimitri Pravdin, 2012
Well, I am having a happy ending to this all these days. The pain motivated me to bigger and better things, and I am on my way to the top, thank Yah!
And I realise that a few homeless days in Hong Kong is NOTHING compared to the ongoing harsh realities facing the homeless out there, whether in China or Turtle Island (North America). They are the true sufferers. Let us all have compassion on them and do all that we can to help them turn their lives around for the better.
HOMELESS IN HONG KONG:
HOMELESS IN MAINLAND CHINA (THE 2nd, 3rd & 4th ARE MY PHOTOS):
HOMELESS IN TORONTO, NORTH TURTLE ISLAND (CANADA):
|Homelessness is not an accident. Homelessness is not a problem. Homelessness is a political agenda. Why else would there be so many homeless people in the richest country that ever existed on the face of this planet. FROM http://ronzigsgallery.blogspot.ca/, accessed June 24, 2012|
HOMELESS IN MY HOMETOWN – VANCOUVER, SALISH TERRITORY, NORTH TURTLE ISLAND:
Here’s a couple videos about it:
One dude goes to live down there one December:
HOMELESS IN SOUTH TURTLE ISLAND (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA):
|Sacramento, California, USA|
A CHALLENGE TO US ALL: