Fat Kee Barber Shop
In the long back alley of this old building on Berwick Street in Shek Kip Mei, Fat Kee Barber Shop is open for proper business, and yet a concerto of life may burst forth at any time, full of flesh and blood. Elderly men come into the shop frequently and rehearse some songs; they like to sing Chinese opera and nostalgic songs of the 1960s and 1970s, including “The Butterfly Lovers”, “My Motherland”, etc.
The Shek Kip Mei people call this the “Old Man Village”. These urban old folks do not necessarily have to sit in parks. During the past twenty years, there was this open-air singing pub that they can come to. The credit goes to Ah Fat, nicknamed “Top Opera Singer in the Barber Trade”, who lets his unkempt buddies gather here to play chess, chatter, sing, and be merry.
The musical friends are old customers. Ah Fat’s business “kingdom” dwells in a small alley, but he has his set of business management skills. “The shop must have an atmosphere. The shop sign must be written with a vigorous calligraphy. I can take care of all plumbing, electrical, and carpentry jobs in the shop single-handedly. Do not fear wind or rain, man! Yet, with only one male barber serving in this narrow alley, women customers fear to come. It is better to have a female assistant to attract clients. My wife however stays home; she thinks the alley is dirty.” Ah Fat says. His back alley shop has a 90% male clientele.