By Damir Sagolj
Just around the corner from where Blade Runner met Bruce Lee, in the neighborhood where Hong Kong’s millions are made, 24 people live their lives in coffins. They call it home – but they’re only 6 by 3 feet wooden boxes, nicknamed coffins and packed into a single room to make more money for the rich.
In a crazy chase for more dollars, landlords in the island city are building something unthinkable in the rest of the world – a beehive for people collected from the margins of society. Math is a rat; pitiless and brutal. Twenty-four times 1450 Hong Kong dollars a month is more than anyone would pay for this just over 500 square feet room.
Mister T, the only inhabitant of these coffin homes who did not want his picture taken (“I have a grown daughter, she would be ashamed”) calls it the bottom. After spending time in the States, with a few years behind bars, this is as low as it gets for him. He spits through broken front teeth, like the routine of a street gangster, and continues bitching about the life – “better than nothing, but not as good as the real life.”
Others here seem to be more relaxed about living in coffins and with their struggles. In a town where the size of ones living space is inversely proportionate to the size of mobile phone screens and where the rental rates, and life in general, are painfully expensive.
Blade Runner went digital. Bruce Lee got a full time job at Madame Tussauds. There are no more heroes in the neighborhood to help fight injustice. Except maybe Miss Sze, a community organizer with the sweetest “everything is going to be okay” look I have ever seen.