The Pipa player
Around the corner from the chaotic Fu Shin street market in Tai Po is a tranquil block of shops devoted to herbal medicines, haircare, and hardware. Surrounded by his equipment, the owner of this tool repair shop practices his pipa, a traditional Chinese string instrument. He plays with complete absorption and concentration, never looks up, and seems oblivious to the two or three people like me who stand on the sidewalk to enjoy his music. He plays very well as if he has played for years. (Is the framed print on the wall his first pipa? Or a lost love?) I never clap or make my appreciation known to him since I think such gestures would ruin the magic. His music creates an oasis for me in this bustling Hong Kong neighborhood.