There is a new “world’s cutest thing” and it lives in Hong Kong


There is a new “cutest thing in the world.”

Laughing babies in the tub, you had your time.

Charlie of “Charlie bit me” fame, you’ve been usurped.

Cats playing with iPads, you’re so 2010.

The cutest thing in the world from now on and forever, is and must be, Chinese grandmas.

There is no cuter thing than a Chinese grandma.

Their wizened faces scream with old-fashioned wisdom – the kind of wisdom that entails putting a piece of jade under your pillow before a big exam.

Their smiles, pushing dimple upon soft, wrinkly dimple into their cheeks, project an irresistible softness – the kind of softness that makes you wonder why you were so upset when HE dumped YOU.

Their homes smell of powder and incense and the best stomach-settling congee you ever knew – the kinds of powder and incense and congee that you search to rediscover for the rest of your life.

Above all, their demeanor – aura, if you like – projects a kind of worldly love that, if you were never to visit China or Hong Kong, you might mistake for being a Hollywood invention.

I was walking in Central last week, and I passed an old Chinese grandma, sitting on her stool as she always is, selling bananas as she always does.

I’ve passed her many times, wondering how she makes a living selling small bunches of bananas every day.

But this day she noticed me too, she looked up, she smiled, and I was transported into her world.

I saw her sitting at home, grandkids at her feet, giving firm but kindly admonitions for unruly behavior.

I saw her grandkids sulking, but loving her all the same.

I saw her own children, the mother and father of her grandchildren, being subconsciously thankful they had such a rock to fall back on.

And when I bought her bananas she touched my hand, and her leathery skin, hard bone and soft, supple flesh, in just her fingers, suggested more life to me than I had seen or felt in many other physical interactions in Hong Kong.

But she’ll be dead soon. She was 90 years old, at least.

But I’ll always remember her, as the cutest thing in the world.



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