Learning Cantonese: Zen, Nature, Art


Buddhist monks and nuns play an active role in Hong Kong society and some of them, such as the subject of this video, are frequently seen on YouTube. 常霖法師 The Venerable Chang Lin (the Mandarin pronunciation is conventionally used; in Cantonese, it becomes Sèuhng4 Làhm4 Faat3 Sī1) has been very active in recent times, partly on account of his having been a very successful photographer in Hong Kong before becoming a Buddhist monk, a process referred to as 出家 chēut gāa in Cantonese, which literally means to “go out of the family”. In this piece, he provides a very simple introduction to zen as 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1, a unity of body and mind, and contrasts it with our usual state of 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6, that is “physically present but otherwise absent”. He then goes on to relate zen to his practice as a photographer.

The video already has English subtitles, so you can go ahead and watch the video here. If you’re interested in the Cantonese details, please take a look at my transcription, notes and more literal translation below. Some of the vocabulary worth taking on board includes 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home”; 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience; 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal; 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley; 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph; and 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law.

I once heard a radio interview with another prominent monk, 衍空法師 the Venerable Yan Kong. Although he had a successful career and a happy marriage, his interest in Buddhism eventually led him to make the decision to 出家 chēut gāa, and finally he had to break the news to his wife. In an extraordinary twist, his wife announced in response that she would become a Buddhist nun, joining him in the spiritual realm, even as they left one another in the secular world . . .


常霖法師:人之所以有好多煩惱呀,有好多問題出現呢 | 其實就係失咗平衡 | 最容易失平衡嘅原因呢 | 就係因為人在心不在 | 如果我哋身心合一嘅話呢 |就會好自在 | 自在呢,就係開心嘅時候自在 | 噉於是呢,你就唔會刻意去不斷追求開心㗎 | 而唔開心嘅時候亦都自在 | 噉咪即係話冇乜唔開心囉

「禪」呢一個字呢,講三日三夜你都講唔完嘅 | 禪係一種體驗,你一定要體驗過你先至真係去了解 | 用一個比較簡單啲嘅形容詞呢 | 就係話喺適當嘅時候做適當嘅事 | 亦都係話,係喺嗰個當下 | 噉所以呢 . . .

● 平衡 pìhng4 hàhng4 = balance; equilibrium | ● 人在心不在 yàhn4 joih6 sām1 bāt1 joih6 = roughly, “physically present but mentally absent” | ● 身心合一 sān1 sām1 hahp6 yāt1 = roughly, “unity of body & mind” | ● 刻意 hāk1 yi3 = often “painstakingly” but also “deliberately; on purpose” | ● 三日三夜 sāam1 yaht6 sāam1 yeh6 = roughly, “till the cows come home” (lit. “three days & three nights”) | ● 體驗 tái2 yihm6 = to learn though one’s personal experience | ● 適當 sīk1 dong3 = suitable; proper; appropriate

The Venerable Changlin: The reason why people tend to have so much trouble and why so many problems crop up is actually because they have lost their balance. What causes people to lose their balance most easily is because their mind wanders off [人在心不在]. If our minds and our bodies work as one, then we feel free and easy, comfortable [自在]. You feel free and at ease when you are happy, and so you don’t have to go out of your way so much to seek happiness; when you are unhappy, you can also be at ease, which means that you won’t feel much in the way of unhappiness.

You could talk about the word “zen” until the cows come home. Zen is a personal experience: you really have to experience it yourself before you can really understand it. A simple description of zen goes like this: doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. You could also put it like this: being in the moment. And so for this reason . . .

【1:00】 . . . 呢個就同大自然就係完全一樣嘅 | 譬如話,嗰樖樹,佢如果係有太陽曬嘅時候,佢唔會話 | 覺得好慘呀,嘩,好曬、好熱呀咁 | 落雨嘅時候,哎吔!做咩成日落雨呀咁?| 佢完全冇呢樣嘢 | 佢當下係咁就係咁

大自然係有一種療癒嘅能力嘅 | 如果我哋平時喺市區裏邊覺得好繁忙呀、好多嘢影響呀 | 其實我好鼓勵大家去大自然嗰度行一行 | 你會比較容易啲釋放自己 | 比較容易做得到心在又自在嘅

我比較鍾意呢,就係影一啲歲月嘅痕跡呀 | 有啲斑駁呀、有啲污跡呀 | 噉我 . . . 我好多時我會睇到呢,佢唔係污跡 | 我會睇到係藝術品,好似 . . . 好似一幅畫咁 | 不過呢個畫家係大自然 | 我喺影相嘅時候呢 | 個腦裏便係 . . .

● 療癒 lìuh4 yuh6 = to heal | ● 繁忙 fàahn4 mòhng4 = busy | ● 鼓勵 gú2 laih6 = to encourage to urge | ● 釋放 sīk1 fong3 = to release; to set free | ● 歲月 seui3 yuht6 = years | ● 斑駁 bāan1 bok3 = mottled; motley | ● 畫家 wáa6*2 gāa1 = painter; artist

. . . it is the same thing as being completely the same as nature. For example, if the sun happens to be shining warmly, that tree [over there] won’t say “I think this is awful! Gosh, it’s so sunny and hot!” or when it rains “Oh no! Why is it always raining?” It wouldn’t do anything like that. It is whatever it is in the moment.

Nature has the capacity to heal. If we generally feel ourselves to be busy in the city, affected by many different things, then I encourage you to go out into nature and take a walk. There you can find release for yourself comparatively easily as well as becoming mindful [心在] and at ease.

I prefer taking photos of the traces left by time — blotches and stains. To me, most of the time I don’t see such things as stains. I see them as works of art, as if they were paintings. [In this case,] however, nature is the painter. When I take my photographs, I don’t have anything . . .

【2:00】. . . 冇嘢諗嘅 | 但係唔係一片空白喎 | 即係話我仍然係感受到當時個環境 | 譬如話,我見到一樣嘢我覺得有一種感動嘅 | 噉我就會攞個相機出嚟影低佢 | 噉但係影嘅時候我唔會諗,話「啊,呢張相我可以表現乜嘢 | 啊,我要加一句咩句子落去 | 又或者我將會係要嚟出書還是係做展覽」| 全部冇呢啲嘢諗 | 我就純粹喺個當下 | 百分之一百放咗落去個感覺

今次展覽嘅特色呢,就係話 | 我啲攝影作品係印喺一張透明膠片上便 | 噉而嗰張透明膠片係好大張 | 喺欣賞嗰個作品嘅時候呢,你會穿過嗰個膠片 | 你會睇到後邊周圍嘅大自然環境 | 呢一個展覽會係喺日曬雨淋嘅情況 | 啫係話,係喺 outdoor 嗰度擺嘅 | 噉所以呢 . . .

● 空白 hūng1 baahk6 = a blank space | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 相機 seung3 [or séung3*2] gei1 = camera | ● 出書 chēut1 syū1 = to put out a book | ● 純粹 sèuhn4 seuih6 = pure; unadulterated | ● 攝影 sip3 yíng2 = photography; to take a photograph | ● 透明 tau3 mìhng4 = transparent | ● 膠片gāau1 pín3*2 = usu. “film”; here perhaps “a piece of plastic” | ● 日曬雨淋 yaht6 saai3 yúh5 làhm4 = be exposed to the sun and the rain

. . . in my mind, but it’s not just a total blank. What I mean is that I’m still experiencing my surroundings at that time. For instance, if I see something and feel moved by it, I will get out my camera and take a photo of it. But when I am photographing it, I am not thinking [to myself]: “I could use this photo to express such-and-such. I could add some words to accompany it [as a caption], or I could put out a book or hold an exhibition.” None of these things occurs to me. I am simply in the moment, putting myself 100% into the feeling.

The special thing about this exhibition is that my photographic works have been printed on transparent sheets of plastic, very large sheets of transparent plastic. When you’re enjoying one of the works, you can look through the plastic at the surrounding natural environment. This exhibition is exposed to the sun and the rain. That is, it has been set up [擺] outdoors. So for this reason . . .

【3:00】. . . 就再響應埋大自然嗰個定律 | 就係話,一切嘅嘢都會成、住、壞、空 | 噉我哋係一齊去體驗呢一啲展品 | 喺一個大自然環境之下一路 . . . 一路不停咁樣變化

● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 定律 dihng6 leuht6 = (natural) law | ● 成、住、壞、空 sìhng4 jyuh6 waaih6 hūng1 = to come into being, to abide, to run down, to become empty

. . . it again responds to that law of nature: all things come into being, abide, run down, and become empty. Together we experience the works in this exhibition in a natural environment that is always constantly changing.

《新心界》:「野」


Ever since the night of the Cantonese Speaking Contest, 阿綠 Ah Luk has wondered about 陳之一 Chan Chi-yat’s preposterous connection with the Italian folk-song “Santa Lucia”. As for 孚翠 Fu-cheui — urban worshipper of all that is truly wild — a visit to Kadoorie Farm in Lam Tsun finally gives her a dream come true: a very close feline encounter with a leopard cat.

Soundtrack: “A Whale of a Tale

喺「林記點心」食完早餐之後,大家就施施然漫步行去車站等64K巴士。孚翠特別開心,心思思盼望可以親眼見到多種極為罕見嘅動物,仲出於好奇心向阿奇用英文提出咗好多問題。同一時間,陳之一忍唔住諗起英國颱風專家希活,呢個人喺上世紀三十年代嚟到香港,四十年代後半期出任香港天文台台長。佢特別鐘意香港嘅自然環境,加上經常出去周圍行山,後尾就將呢方面嘅體驗總結成書仔,標題為《漫游香港》,特登介紹佢最欣賞嘅地方同埋景點。書寫到林村山谷嘅時候,佢有一段話係咁樣形容:「依我睇,行上轉往林村山谷嘅路徑,係等如踏入另一個境界嘅門戶,充滿傳奇。四圍矗立嘅丘陵將山谷同喧鬧嘅人間徹底隔絕,令到鄉村、田野同埋樹林沉浸於一股古老而寧靜嘅氣氛之中」。雖然希活所描述嘅風景已經有八十年歷史,但係嗰種零舍獨特嘅自然美照,澳洲男人睇到而家仍然能夠覺察到——希活被呢一帶山谷所感染嘅濃烈感受仲未冚唪唥消失嗮。

到咗巴士站冇幾耐,車就準時駛入車站俾乘客上落。因為係終點站嘅關係,佢哋好容易就揾到一個唔使分散嘅四人座位,兩人對兩人咁四個人坐埋一齊,面對車尾嘅係孚翠同阿奇。佢哋繼續津津樂道咁傾偈,不過而家改為紐西蘭男人提問,熱愛馬騮同烈酒嘅後生女人回答,話題已經由動物轉到歐洲流行歌曲。可能出於呢個原因,阿綠嘅腦海無啦啦出現咗陳之一嗰晚喺自己屋企瞓覺期間唱歌嘅畫面,於是佢口氣少帶幾分整蠱咁決定以「突擊」嘅方式問佢:「噉你可唔可以話我知點解你咁鐘意唱《散塔露淇亞》呢首意大利民歌呢?」

「咦?」南半球瘦子對住坐喺身邊嘅發暗家睩大對眼,臉上就好似一個「囧」字咁,冇辦法掩蓋心入面嘅驚訝。「你幾時聽到我唱呢首歌㗎?我唱歌咁鮓,點會肯喺朋友面前獻世㗎啫!」

「咪演講比賽嗰一晚囉!其實,你嗰陣好似好發瘟咁,一次又一次重複『散塔露淇亞,散塔露淇亞』呢段副歌。唔通就係香港嘅第三種音樂?」

陳之一隨即擰轉頭望車窗望望外嘅風景,心中依然諗住希活「另一個境界嘅門戶」呢句說話。睇到男人咁樣嘅反應,粒聲都唔出,頭髮染色嘅女人後悔自己頭先採取贈興嘅口吻。不過,啱啱想開口講聲「對唔住」嘅時候,陳之一又轉過臉嚟,面帶笑容咁向佢打咗吓眼色。

「真係夠嗮騎呢呀!好多年前,我禮拜六得閒去咗又一城飲杯咖啡,之後漫無目的咁散步行到大坑東邨附近嘅遊樂場。嗰陣時咁橋進行緊一場足球比賽,於是我就企喺場側便一邊睇波,一邊亂諗心事。好可惜,十分鐘之後就聽到裁判吹口哨嘅尖銳聲音,宣佈呢場比賽正式結束。當時時間尚早,我就坐喺長櫈睇吓書,睇嘅係我最鐘意嘅中級廣東話課本,係由英國語言學家馬詩帆同太太葉彩燕合作撰寫嘅,封面設計選用嘅色調竟然係一種吸睛嘅粉紅色。過咗一陣,我眼前突然間出現一個男人,身型好高。當佢注意到我本書係廣東話教材嘅時候,就開始撩我講嘢。本來我好開心遇到呢次練習講外語嘅機會,但係過咗一段時間,我就嫌嗰個人有少少太癡纏,感覺好似被佢利用嚟消磨時間。呢個時候,男人話我知佢嘅嗜好係唱歌,然後就突然跪落下喺我面前大聲唱歌,姿勢同求婚基本上似到十足㗎!其實,佢把聲好似係經過訓練,又洪亮又好聽,但係我忍唔住覺得好老尷,因為當其時周圍都有好多人喺度跑緊步啦、踢波啦、鍛煉筋骨啦,大坑東游樂場咁啱就係高峰時期,嗰啲業餘運動員都對呢次嘅即興演唱會特別有興趣,真係一種難忘嘅東西文化交流活動!好明顯,我之後就同《散塔露淇亞》結下咗呢種獨一無二嘅緣份啦!」

「嘩!估唔到會搞成咁喎!」阿綠好愕然咁喃喃自語。

自好耐之前第一次嚟嘉道理「上班」,阿奇越嚟越投入咁難得嘅工作環境裏邊,越嚟越唔捨得為香港嘅野生動物,好想繼續為佢哋作出貢獻作出貢獻。一邁入農場嘅入口,佢就搖身一變,轉眼間成為態度既嚴肅又認真嘅一個環保教育者,即刻開始向朋友分享佢對自然界嘅廣博知識。呢度並唔係通常會出現喺電視頻道嘅世界,以一種卡通化嘅形式去扭曲生物,而係直接令人接觸到盤根錯節又相互聯繫嘅宇宙。真係好矛盾:日益進步嘅科學增加咗環境嘅神秘感——連日常生活最微不足道嘅環節亦都符合《道德經》中所描寫嘅「玄之又玄,眾妙之門」嗰種境界。

經過映日園動物展覽館之後,佢哋就往左轉,行到霍克誠野生動物護理中心,去睇吓其中兩隻獲救嘅赤麂。雖然本性好怕羞,但係呢啲鹿仔已經完全習慣被無數嘅遊客近距離觀察,欣賞佢哋十分安全嘅生存空間。

「好難相信,夜晚黑沙啞嘅汪汪聲竟然係性格溫馴嘅你哋所發出㗎!」阿綠話,好似直接同赤麂對談緊咁。

跟住,孚翠出於好奇心問阿奇:「佢哋雙眼下面嗰啲係乜嘢嚟㗎?」

正喺度望緊手機嘅阿奇過咗一陣(好似係睇完一條短訊)先回答:「呢樣嘢 . . . 叫『香腺』 . . . 係赤麂用嚟 . . . 唔知點講 . . . 『標明』。」

「『標明』?咩係『標明』?」孚翠隨後好似唔太明白咁追問。

阿奇差啲諗壞腦,過咗一段時間之後就進一步講解:「即係『地盤』 . . . 標明地盤 . . . 標明有食物嘅地方 . . . 同埋佢特別鐘意去嘅 . . . 地點。」

「哦,原嚟係咁樣!」崇拜馬騮嘅女仔話,對『標明』 嘅含義已經有丁點嘅了解。

「其實呢,」阿奇停頓片刻後再繼續解釋,「赤麂有另一個特徵 . . . 一般有蹄嘅動物 . . . 每一隻腳有蹄 . . . 但係赤麂淨係得兩隻腳嘅啫 . . . 好得意!」

陳之一呢刻好想了解清楚係後腿有鹿蹄定係前腿,又或者係前腿一隻後腿一隻,但係好可惜喺開口提問之際,紐西蘭「筷子鼓手」又一次耷低頭接電話。

「對唔住 . . . 動物拯救中心有事 . . . 只有幾分鐘啫。孚翠!你同我去 . . . 今日你有運氣!」話口未完,阿奇就轉身離開,孚翠乘機跟住佢後面一齊走,令到剩低嘅兩個人一臉茫然。

到達診所側門嗰陣,阿奇低聲向孚翠解釋吓情況:「豹貓啱啱做完手術 . . . 好好彩,冇咩問題!你要戴上醫護服裝 . . . 避免感染 . . . 如果遇上同事盤問 . . . 你就係實習生,好冇呀?記得啦!我哋只有兩分鐘!快啲!」

一行入手術室,孚翠就被金屬台上嘅成年豹貓深深震撼。由於佢呢刻仍然處於麻醉狀態,所以除咗胸部隨住呼吸不斷上下起伏之外,豹貓瞓低喺度喐都唔喐,好似價錢昂貴嘅藝術品咁。嘩,真係太完美喇!孚翠暗中諗,但係同一時間,佢難以解釋點解會產生咁強烈嘅反應。會唔會同豹貓嗰啲佈滿皮毛嘅斑紋有關,俾到人嘅印象既神秘又充滿魅力?又或者係因為佢嘅身材之美?——貓嘅外貌處處都係寓意靈敏、堅強、優美、張力、獨立。孚翠一時三刻冇辦法攪清楚,只好企喺豹貓面前,默默欣賞呢隻受輕傷嘅動物。戴上衛生手套嘅後生女好想伸手觸摸豹貓令人着迷嘅紋理,為此真係要出力控制住自己。佢心諗:嘩,呢隻豹貓可以話係野性一種既優美又純粹嘅象徵同埋圖騰,同時又有能力將人心深處早被活埋嘅野性復活起嚟。唔怪得之人抗拒唔到豹貓嘅吸引力!

「阿翠!夠鐘啦。我哋 . . . 即刻要走啦!」聽到近距離傳嚟一陣雜沓嘅腳步聲,孚翠只好依依不捨咁跟隨男人離開手術室,永遠離開眼前帶嚟咁多啟迪嘅 . . . 唔係「天使」. . . 而係更加罕見嘅一名「大地使」。

With a Capital W

Photo by Tato Villanova on Pexels.com


On sunny days,
I make sure I spend plenty of fresh-air-time
with my other — wilder — brother,
Shadow. Together
we go our separate ways wherever we happen
to please ourselves. But
when Cloud is King,
I am the one reduced to shade,
overcast exactly
for hours at a time in one and the same place,
while he steps in
where I left off: thrilled by those three —
or four — or five dimensions
as he sets off in search of that wholler, humaner, humankinder world.
And if I’ve told him once,
I’ve told him a thousand times:
“If you find it, brother, remember:
JUST AS SOON AS YOU CAN PLEASE COME BACK FOR ME!”

Learning Cantonese: Got Hang Fai, the Man Who Married Running


If you too are married to running, you will love this video about 葛行輝 Stanley Got and his passion for tung kan paau or “running to work”. This notion, first popularized by the Japanese runner-writer 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya, gets an extra twist in a Hong Kong setting when Got realizes he can run from Sha Tin to Kowloon where he works as the boss of a clothing store, taking in some diverse mountain wilderness along the way.

If you happened to be married to Cantonese rather than athletics, you will enjoy Got’s humorous, engaging manner and vivid turns of phrase, including 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to take several things and make them into one thing; 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey”; 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; and 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed.

The marriage of image and music is another inspiring aspect of this video: at times they meld in a powerfully evocative way.

You can watch the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). For my transcription, vocabulary notes and translation, please see below.


旁白:跑,係因為身體嘅呼喚 | 係爲咗揾返錯過嘅生活 | 定係爲咗發現新嘅自己? | 廣闊嘅跑道上 | 我哋有住不一樣嘅追求 | 走向唔同嘅目的地 | 但信念就只有一個

● 呼喚 fū1 wuhn6 = to call to (e.g. “Our country is calling us” [祖國在呼喚我們]) | ● 追求 jēui1 kàuh4 = to seek; to pursue | ● 信念 seun3 nihm6 = faith; belief; conviction

Voice-over: Do we run in response to the call of the body, for the sake of recovering a life we have missed, or in order to discover a new [sense of] self? On the wide running track, we have our different pursuits [追求] and we move towards different destinations, but the faith is the same . . .

Caption: 有種信念叫跑 | There is one kind of faith called “running”

旁白:我哋每一集會有三個環節 | 「你跑」,改變人生嘅跑步故事 | 「佢跑」,獨男跑步育成攻略 | 「我跑」五K 名人賽真誠分享 | Three, Two, One: Go!

● 環節 wàahn4 jit3 = link; segment | ● 育 yuhk6 = to educate; to cultivate; to nurture; the addition of 成 sìhng4 here perhaps indicates result, that is, to instruct someone so that they are able to do sth. successfully (one meaning of 成 is “to accomplish; to succeed”) | ● 攻略 gūng1 leuhk6 = ① to attack & seize ② a tactic | ● 名人賽 = (?) a master in a particular sport, cf. 美國名人賽, The Masters/ Masters Tournament | ● 真誠 jān1 sìhng4 = sincere; genuine; true

Voice-over: There will be three segments [環節] in each our programs: “You Run”, stories about running and how it can change your life; “He/She Runs”, tactics to educate a single male runner [about how to be able to run well]; and “I Run”, in which masters in the 5-kilometre run truly share [some of their secrets]. Three, Two, One: Go!

Caption: 「你跑」| “You Run”

旁白:一日嘅起點,由日出開始【1:00】 | 為迎接繁忙嘅生活 | 我哋整裝待發 | 無論係趕返工定返學 | 都已經急不及待喺起步線上面奔馳 | 跑,成為我哋嘅日常 | 當大家追逐時間嘅同時 | 有人離開撲面嘅人群 | 選擇另類嘅起步途徑:通勤跑

● 整裝待發 jíng2 jōng1 doih6 faat3 = be ready to set out; fully equipped & waiting to set out (意思是整理好行装,等待出发。出自陶菊隐《北洋军阀统治时期史话》) | ● 急不及待 gāp1 bāt1 kahp6 doih6 = to impatient to wait; extremely anxious | ● 奔馳 bān1 chìh4 = to run quickly; to speed | ● 追逐 jēui1 juhk6 = ① to pursue; to chase ② to seek; to quest | ● 撲面 pok3 mihn6 = cf. 迎面 yìhng4 mihn6 = head-on; in one’s face; perhaps here “oncoming” | ● 另類 lihng6 leuih6 = ① alternative (that is, “far out; way out”) ② nonconformist | ● 起步 hei2 bouh6 = ① to start to move ② to start to do sth. | ● 通勤跑 tūng1 kàhn4 páu2 = running to work (a Japanese term)

Voice-over: The starting point for any day begins with the rising of the sun. In order to go forth to meet [迎接] our busy lives, we pack our bags and head out [整裝待發], already dashing anxiously [towards?] the starting line, either to go to work or get to school. Running has become something normal [日常] to us. While everyone is racing against time [追逐時間], there are those who leave behind the oncoming crowds, choosing an altogether different [另類] means of getting underway [起步途徑]: running to work.

「通勤跑」係日語漢字 | 係日本作家關家良一著作入便 | 跑步返工嘅意思 | 任職服裝店主管葛行輝 | 外號「史丹利店長」| 〇九年愛上跑步 | 每朝都會喺沙田河岸練跑 | 近年更加愛上跑山 | 發掘咗一條穿越山林 | 直達九龍返工嘅通勤路線

● 日語漢字 Yaht6 yúh5 hon3 jih6 = approx. a Japanese word [日語] written in Chinese characters [漢字] | ● 主管 jyú2 gún2 = ① be responsible for; be in charge of ② the person in charge | ● 店長 dim3 jéung2 = store supervisor; manager | ● 河畔 hòh4 buhn6 (the standard reading)/búhn5 (a variant reading) = river bank; riverside | ● 發掘 faat3 gwaht6 = to excavate; to unearth; to explore | ● 穿越 chyūn1 yuht6 = to pass though; to cut across |● 直達 jihk6 daaht6 = usu. through; non-stop

Note: He is called Got Hang Fai in English | 關家良一Ryōichi Sekiya is a Japanese ultramarathon and marathon runner from Sagamihara, Kanagawa.

Voice-over: Tung kan paau is a Japanese word written in Chinese characters, used in a book written by Ryōichi Sekiya, and means “running to work”. In charge of a clothing shop, Got Hang Fai goes by the nickname “Store Supervisor Stanley”. In 2009, he fell in love with running, and would go for a training run [練跑] along the [Shing Mun] River in Sha Tin every morning. In recent years, he became even more passionate about mountain running, and managed to figure out [發掘] a route [that enabled him] to run to work, passing through mountain forests all the way to Kowloon.

葛行輝:舊年【2:00】我開始,呃,跟人行吓山啦,咁啊熟吓啲山路啦 | 發覺原來呢,喺沙田,如果沿山路出九龍呢,係好快嘅啫 | 噉我就喺上沙田坳獅子亭嗰度呢 | 噉嗰度一落山就係九龍喇 | 呢個 shortcut 呢,又唔好遠嘅啫 | 噉只要你係應付上山條山路呢 | 咁就OK 喇 | 噉大約喺幾個月前呢,噉我就開始探咗路之後呢 | 就跑步返工喇

● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 沙田坳 Sāa1 Tìhn4 Aau3 = Sha Tin Pass | ● 獅子亭 Sī1 Jí2 Tìhng4 = Sha Tin Lions Pavilion | ● 落山 lohk6 sāan1 = (?) to go down a mountain | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle

Got Hang Fai: Last year, I started to go out hiking with people and became a bit more familiar with some of the mountain routes. I found that, from Sha Tin [喺沙田], if I followed the mountain road that went out to Kowloon, it was very quick. Going all the way down the mountain from the Lions Pavilion at Sha Tin Pass, I’d get to Kowloon. This shortcut wasn’t very far [out of my way (?)]. As long as you knew how to handle going up the mountain, it was OK. A few months ago roughly, after I’d started to explore this route, I [began] running to work.

葛行輝:噉我而家呢,就係 *jai 跑步同埋返工呢,係合二為一 | 我反而呢,就多咗啲時間

● 合二為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) to combine; to take several things and make them into one thing

Got Hang Fai: Now, I have turned running and going to work into one and the same thing [合而為一]. But as it turns out, I have a bit more time [for other things].

葛行輝:我呢條路線呢,又有平路又有上山又有落山 | 噉反而喺嗰個,呃,訓練方面呢,比較冇就咁跑平路咁單一【3:00】| 嗱,我哋平時生活呢、或者工作呢,環境 | 唔會咁大上大落㗎嘛 | 呢個你當一個奇妙之旅啦 | 喺呢十 K 裏邊呢,有經過城市啦、上到半山啦 | 又可以飽覽九龍嘅全景啦 | 跟住你就落山啦,又跑返入鬧市呢 | 即係 *je 我喺個零鐘頭裏邊呢,又經歷鬧市 | 又經歷過寧靜 | 噉個過程呢,係,係幾舒服㗎

● 奇妙之旅 kèih4 miuh6 jī1 léuih5 = roughly, “a marvellous journey” | ● 飽覽 báau2 láahm5 = to look intensively; to feast one’s eyes on | ● 鬧市 naauh6 síh5 = the bustling city

Got Hang Fai: On this route of mine, there are ordinary level roads [平路] as well as mountain roads. However, in terms of training [訓練方面], it’s not as unvarying [單一] as running on an ordinary level road [平路]. In our everyday lives, or at work, [our] environments don’t usually have such a lot of variation [大上大落]. You can treat this as a marvellous journey — in these ten kilometres, you pass through an urban centre [城市], go halfway up a mountain, feast your eyes on a complete view of Kowloon, then you go down the mountain and run back into the bustling city. I mean, in around an hour, you experience both the busy city [鬧市] and complete peace, and the process is really quite pleasant.

葛行輝:譬如話落雨,出街就唔係好方便啦 | 如果跑步嚟講呢,如果咁嘅雨呢,在我嚟講就冇乜大礙嘅 | 好天跑呢,都成個人濕嘅喇 | 噉落雨跑,都係濕㗎喇 | 不過分別就係呢,好天跑對鞋唔濕 | 落雨跑,對鞋濕埋【4:00】,咁解啫

● 礙 ngoih6 = to hinder; to obstruct; to be in the way of

Got Hang Fai: For instance, when it rains, going out is not very convenient, but when it comes to running, the rain is not much of a bother [冇乜大礙]. On a fine day when you run, you get all wet with sweat [濕], and on a rainy day you get wet too, the only difference being that your shoes don’t get wet on a clear day, while on a rainy day they do — that’s all there is to it [咁解啫].

葛行輝:跑步呢,其實呢,你話係一種運動啦 | 噉如果係恆常跑呢,其實我覺得係一個修練嚟㗎 | 因為你要克服咗自己一啲嘅惰性啦,一啲負面情緒啦 | 噉人就好逸惡勞嘅 | 你要喺個過程裏邊呢,set 一啲唔同嘅目標 | 係令我呢,係 keep 住跑步,係唔會停低落嚟

● 恆常 hàhng4 sèuhng4 = ? cf. 恆 = ① permanent; lasting ② perseverance & 常 = constant; invariable | ● 修練 sāu1 lihn6 = ? (cf. 修煉 sāu1 lihn6 = (of Taoists) to practise asceticism) | ● 克服 hāk1 fuhk6 = to surmount; to overcome; to conquer| ● 惰性 doh6 sing3 = inertia | ● 好逸惡勞 hou3 yaht6 wu3 lòuh4 = love ease & hate work

Got Hang Fai: You can say that running is in fact a type of sporting activity, [but] if you persevere with running [係恆常跑] actually I think it’s a spiritual practice [修練], because you have to overcome your own set of inertias [自己一啲嘅惰性], as well as some negative moods. Human beings love ease and hate work, [so] you have to set a few different goals in the process to keep me running and so that I won’t stop.

旁白:山巒起伏,有高有低 | 正好係店長跑步歷程嘅寫照 | 當佢挑戰多過超越自己極限嘅比賽時 | 無形間又築起咗一道屏障

● 山巒 sāan1 lyùhn4 = a chain of mountains | ● 歷程 lihk6 chìhng4 = a course; a career | ● 寫照 sé2 jiu3 = portrait; portraiture | ● 極限 gihk6 haahn6 = the limit; the maximum | ● 無形間 mòuh4 yìhng4 gāan1 = (?) imperceptibly; virtually | ● 屏障 pìhng4 jeung3 = protective screen (perhaps “barrier” in this context)

Voice-over: [In] the undulations of a chain of mountains, there are highs and lows, an exact portrait of the long-distance-running career of the store supervisor. In the contest — one with many challenges [挑戰多過] — to go beyond his own limits, imperceptibly a barrier was built [between him and his running].

葛行輝:我係跑路跑先㗎 | 噉我早幾年呢,就覺得,即係 *je,越跑,即係 就好似越冇乜動力呀 | 跑比賽【5:00】嗰陣時候呢,係慢慢覺得有壓力 | 但我初初唔係呀 | 我初初起步嗰陣時,我係渴望係鳴槍㗎 | 鳴槍嗰下呢,我係非常之希望呢,就呢,我衝線之後呢,個時間係點樣樣 | 直到有一次,喺個起步點嗰陣時,等緊鳴槍 | 我腦入便呢,就有一個諗法就係,又要跑四呀二 K | 我就覺得呢,對比賽呢,有少少厭惡喇 | 噉嗰年開始呢,我就唔跑比賽

● 路跑 louh6 páu2 = roughly, “road running” (as opposed to mountain running) | ● 渴望 hot3 mohng6 = to thirst for; to long for; to yean for | ● 鳴槍 mìhng4 chēung1 = to fire a shot (here, used to signal the start of a running race) | ● 衝線 chung1 sin3 = to breast the tape (that is, at the finishing line) | ● 厭惡 yim3 wu3 = to detest; to abhor; to abominate

Got Hang Fai: I [unclear] ran road races. [After] several years I felt that the more I ran, the less I had an impetus [動力]. At that time when I was taking part in races, gradually I came to feel that there was pressure [on me]. When I first started, it wasn’t like that. When I first began running, I longed to hear the sound of the starter pistol, and at that instant when the shot was fired, I was really extremely hopeful about what [my] time would be like after breasting the tape at the finishing-line. This went on until on one occasion [直到有一次], during that time before the race began [嗰陣時], as I waited for the starting gun to be fired, a thought popped into my head about having to run another 42 kilometres, and I felt a tinge of loathing for racing. From that year onwards, I didn’t run in races [anymore].

葛行輝:嗱,我,我覺得跑步呢,就好似,呃,同一段婚姻就好似嘅 | 噉如果你認定跑步係你個終身伴侶呢 | 噉呢,你要係 . . . 要千方百計去維繫呢個,呃,嗰個關係啦 | 噉初初我跑步嗰陣時候呢,嗰頭一兩年呢 | 就好似初初拍拖個蜜月咁喇, 係,係好開心㗎,係 | 噉同埋呢,就係呢,嗰陣時我個,【6:00】個目標好明確 | 我要係,呃,跑全馬 | 噉當你跑完全馬 | 之後呢,你好似,即係 *je,大家結咗婚 . . . 到咗手喇 | 噉不知不覺呢,你發覺呢,就係呢,唔係好,好夠動力呢 | 去 keep 住你好似以前一路維繫緊跑步嗰團火 | 噉我其實我就習慣就不斷呢,就係 *jai即係 *je,用一啲嘅新嘅方式 | 去包裝跑步呢件事 | 令我自己呢,係不斷呢,係樂在其中 | 噉我跑步返工呢,其中一個原因,都係咁樣樣 | 將返工同埋跑步合而爲一咋嘛

● 認定 yihng6 dihng6 = to firmly believe; to maintain; hold | ● 終身伴侶 jūng1 sān1 buhn6 léuih5 = a lifelong companion (referring to one’s husband or wife) | ● 千方百計 chīn1 fōng1 baak3 gai3 = in a thousand and one ways; by every possible means; by hook or by crook | ● 維繫 wàih4 haih6 = to hold together; to maintain | ● 跑全馬 páau2 chyùhn4 máah5 = (?) to run a full marathon cf. 全程馬拉松 | ● 到手 dou3 sau2 = in one’s hands; in one’s possession | ● 動力 duhng6 lihk6 = motive/driving force; impetus | ● 包裝 bāau1 jōng1 = a pack; a package | ● 樂在其中 lohk6 joih6 kèih4 jūng1 = overwhelmed with joy; overjoyed | ● 合而為一 hahp6 yìh4 wàih4 yāt1 = (?) combine into one

Got Hang Fai: Look, my feeling is that running is like getting married to someone. If you genuinely believe that running will be your lifelong companion, then you must maintain your relationship to it by every possible means. When I first started running, in that first one or two years, it was like the honey-moon period when you first start going out with someone — [I] was so happy. In addition, my objective was very clear: I wanted to run a full marathon. Afterwards, it as if you have got married — you have got your hands on what you wanted [到咗手]. But without you even realizing it, you discover that you don’t really have enough impetus to maintain the fire [團火] that you seemed to have all along before for running.

旁白:一場早課,為店長整理好工作狀態 | 雖然除低咗跑衫 | 店長仍然將跑步嘅熱情帶入去工作間入面【7:00】感染到身邊嘅同事

● 早課 jou2 fo3 = literally, “a morning class” | ● 跑衫 paau2 saan1 = running gear/attire | ● 工作間 gung1 jok3 gaan1 = literally, “work space” | ● 感染 gam2 yihm5 = to influence; to infect; to affect

Voice-over: A morning class [一場早課] [helps] the store manager to get himself into the right frame of mind for work [整理好工作狀態] and although he has changed out of his running gear, he nevertheless carries his passion for running into the work space, infecting the people he works with.

旁白: 由對跑步嘅零接觸 | 巴士都追唔到 | 到近年完成咗十公里嘅公開賽事 | 店長正正就係佢幕後嘅軍師喇

● 賽事 choi3 sih6 = sporting event; a competition | ● 幕後 mohk6 hauh6 = behind the scenes | ● 軍師 gwān1 sī = usu. “military adviser”

Voice-over: She had zero contact with running. She couldn’t [even] run for the bus. In recent years, she has completed a public sporting event. Her boss is her adviser, behind the scenes.

Joanna:我而家做所有啲運動呢 | 全部都係店長教我嘅 | 以前讀書嗰陣時,紮紮跳嘅都係 | 但係做咗師奶之後就基本上唔喐㗎 | 唔喐㗎 (葛行輝:佢冇喐成廿年呀)| 冇喐廿幾年嘅喇,冇喐㗎喇 | 跟住即係今時今日做體能 . . . 學做體能呀、跑吓班呀 | 甚至學吓行吓山呀,報吓跑班嗰啲呢 | 全部都係店長 | 即係 *je . . . 佢 . . . 佢 . . . 佢半推半就(葛行輝:唔係,都要 . . .都要靠你自己嘅)| 半 . . . 唔係呀 . . . 我 . . . 即係 . . . 即係 . . . 唔係呀但係 . . .(葛行輝:我用把口吹水咋嘛,都要你自己至肯做至得嘅)

● 紮紮跳 jaat3 jaat3 tiu3= the act of jumping around | ● 師奶 sī1 nāai5*1 = middle-aged woman; married woman; housewife | ● 體能 tái2 nàhng4 = physical strength | ● 半推半就 bun3 tēui1 bun3 jauh6 = yield but with a show of reluctance

Now I do all kinds of sports. The boss taught me all of them. When I was a student, I used to be very active [紮紮跳], but after I got married, basically I didn’t move. I didn’t move. (Got Hang Fai: For 20 years she didn’t move.) [Right,] I didn’t move for 20 years, not an inch. But right now I’m doing physical strength . . . (self corrects) I’m learning about physical strength, running [跑吓班], even doing some hiking, signing up for a running group [跑吓班]. And all thanks to the boss. That is . . . he . . . he . . . he sort of half pushed me and half helped me [半推半就] (Got Han Fai: No I didn’t! You did it by yourself.) Half . . . no, that’s not it . . . I . . . that is . . . that is . . . no, but . . . (Got Hang Fai: I just said a few things to [encourage] you, but it could have happened if you hadn’t been willing.)

Joanna:我返工嗰時呢,見到我店長 | 我話點解你孭跑鞋返工 | 跟住佢話【8:00】,我跑完步先返工吖嘛 | 噉我話,如果我咁肥,我有冇得減呀 | 噉佢話,你先行吓先 | 如果唔係整嚫隻腳就麻煩喇

● 孭 mē 1 = CARRY on the shoulders

Joanna:On my way to walk, I saw the boss. I said: “Why are you carrying your running shoes to work, slung over your shoulders like that [孭]?” He said: I finish my run before I come to work. And so I said: “If I’m so fat, would I be able to lose weight?” And he said: “You could try walking first, otherwise it would be a nuisance if you hurt a leg.”

葛行輝:佢以前呢,就唔夠膽行山嘅,佢驚落山呀,吓 | 噉佢其實個體能唔得 | 但係呢,佢又成日講啲朋友去行山呀 | 一路都掛喺口度 ,我知佢好想㗎 | 噉我知道有一個,呃,山藝初班呢 | 學吓啲上山 technique 呀 | 噉其實呢,如果你係,呃,掌握到上落山嘅 technique(技巧) | 你自己就基本上呢,你個信心會大咗㗎 | 即係 *je,你可以跨出自己嗰個圈呀 | 將自己嗰個世界再擴闊啲囉 | 噉啊你要自己肯去行出第一步呢 | 噉你個世界呢,就大好多㗎喇 | 係咪呀?

● 山藝 sāan1 ngaih6 = (?) mountaineering (lit. “mountain craft”) | ● 初班 chō1 bāan1 = (?) an elementary class | ● 掌握 jéung2 āk1 = to grasp | ● 跨出 kwāa1 chēut1 = (?) to step outside | ● 擴闊 kong3 fut3 = to broaden cf. 擴闊視野 = broaden one’s vision; widen one’s horizon

Got Hang Fai: Previously, she didn’t have the courage to do any hill-climbing, afraid that she’d have a fall [落山]. Actually, her physical strength was inadequate. And yet she was always talking about her friends and how they went out hill-climbing. She was always going on about it, so I knew that she really wanted to give it a try. I knew about an elementary class in mountaineering [where she could learn] some hill-climbing techniques. If you grasp the techniques for climbing and going down hills, then your confidence will increase. That is, you can step outside [the limitations of] your own circle, and broaden your world. Now if you are willing to take the first step, then your world will be a bigger one. Isn’t that right?

Joanna:係呀!你睇吓,周圍 . . .

Joanna: That’s right! Just look around . . .

旁白:美好嘅風景 | 通常都要攀山越嶺先能夠【9:00】親身欣賞得到 | 店長不斷鍛煉强健體魄 | 令自己可以達到參與海外馬拉松 | 或者山賽嘅資格 | 藉住比賽去放眼世界

● 攀山越 pāan1 sāan1 yuht6 líhng5 = cf. 翻山越嶺 = to cross over mountain after mountain | ● 强健體魄 kèuhng4 gihn6 tái2 paak3 = ? cf. 體魄强健 = be physically strong; have a strong constitution | ● 山賽 sāan1 choi3 = lit. “mountain contest; mountain competition” | ● 資格 jī1 gaak3 = qualifications | ● 放眼世界 fong3 ngáahn5 sai3 gaai3 = to have the whole world in view

Voice-over: Often, you have to scale mountain after mountain to reach some beautiful scenery and to be able to appreciate it in person. This store supervisor constantly trains his physical strength, to the point where he was qualified to participate in marathons held overseas or mountain competitions [山賽]. He made use of sporting events to get a whole view of the world.

葛行輝:嗱,噉我而家今年就係五呀七歲啦 | 噉就嚟緊呢,呃,過咗六十呢,我都要考慮,即係 *je,我個,呃,六十歲之後呢,噉可能呢,就要係退落職場喇 | 噉,即係 *je,要考慮我嘅退休生活啦 | 首先就要呢個係身體健康先啦 | 有氣有力至可以做得成㗎嘛 | 噉所以而家呢個時候呢 | 我覺得操山呢,係一個好好嘅方法嚟嘅 | 噉啊噉可以做返啲自己,呃,好想做嘅嘢喇 | 例如呢,就係我好想做呢個 back-packer 㗎 | 即係 *je 呢,即係 *je,用腳慢跑去,去觀光 | 好好玩㗎 | 即係 *je,你可能就係我六十歲後呢 | 就真係可能以咁嘅形式呢,走去,走去環遊世界㗎

● 退落職場 teui3 lohk6 jīk1 chèuhng4 = to withdraw from the work arena | ● 有氣有力 yáuh5 hei3 yáuh5 lihk6 = (?) strong cf. 有氣無力 = weak | ● 操山 chōu1 sāan1 = (?) to walk mountain trails | ● 慢跑 maahn6 páau2 = jogging; to jog | ● 觀光 gūn1 gwōng1 = to go sightseeing; visit; tour | ● 環遊世界 wàahn4 yàuh4 sai3 gaai3 = to travel the world

Got Hang Fai: Look, I am now 57 and what’s coming . . . when I’ve turned 60. I have to think about withdrawing from the work arena and about my life when I’ve retired. The first [priority] is that I stay healthy. You can only keep active if you’ve strong. So now at the moment, I’m thinking that trail walking [操山] is a good option. I can go back to doing some of the things I’d really like to do. For example, I’d like to be a back-packer, I mean, [combining] jogging with sight-seeing. It’d be a lot of fun. After I’ve turned sixty, I could really go and travel round the world in this way.

The Minimal Kingdom of Zac



From the very first minute he opens
his eyes, right up to that lyrical-miracle instant
he falls through himself into sleep, Zachary’s
always ― inwardly ― fiendishly busy
with endless renditions of his own personal
national anthem, composed
in honour of the Minimal Kingdom
of Zac. It might sound as if
he’s saying something perfectly banal,
but in his heart of hearts he goes on constantly mouthing
the words of his unique song: God Save . . .
Long Live . . . God Save . . . Send Him . . .
Victorious . . . Happy . . . Glorious . . .
Long . . . To Reign . . . Reign . . .
Reign
. . . And when he’s slouching
in a seat; or defecating; or watching eagles turn
slow circles through the air; or helping his father
reset the alarm at the end ―
or the beginning ― of Daylight Saving; or
enjoying a moment of candle-lit mesmerization
in the quiet of his bedroom; or engaged
in some other faintly ridiculous Zac-bloke thing,
still he upstands rather stiffly in himself,
wearing that official-po-faced grovel of a look
we all know so well ― from the inside ―
hand over heart and eyes lifted vaguely
up to the sky. It’s never for a split second
a matter of TO ME OR NOT TO ME.
Actually, the entire truth of Zac
lies in that question perennially unasked
at the absolute core of Zachary-being ―
a border here, a check-point there,
another sly attempt at annexation ―
as he divides his world slap bang down the middle
into Friend and Foe. And so it goes on,
year after year after year, until one day,
like a pop song that repeats and fades from our ears
before reaching its last magic chord,
Zac’s anthem is scratched from the score of the Earth
and his kingdom, smartly erased.