“If You Don’t Drink Tea, You Are Not Chinese”: Nick Ng Captures a Beloved Tradition of his Grandparents

Currently appointed as and sponsored by Sony Malaysia as their Alpha Professional Photographer, Kuala Lumpur-based Nick Ng sees the world as a living canvas – “with her inhabitants as its heart, pulsating with time…giving meaning to the word Life.” He considers himself not as a photographer but more as a “connection between the images portrayed and the audience that views them.”

Nick has not undergone formal art education and prepares himself by watching movies. He is inspired by the brilliance of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai (famous for the hits Chungking Express, Fallen Angels and In the Mood for Love). Nick’s own projects – whether they deal with restaurants in Kuala Lumpur or the shipyard workers of Dhaka or the colours of old Delhi – pay close attention to history, memory, the smallest of objects and the most mundane human habits. “I hope the viewers would feel as if they are being brought inside the images,” he says, “as if they are actually looking at the scenes being captured, of cultures and practices of different parts of the world.”

Nick Ng

In his series “If You Don’t Drink Tea, You are Not Chinese”, Nick shows elderly Chinese men congregating in a decaying but cozy establishment. Under bulbs of pale golden light, surrounded by walls with oversized red Chinese alphabets and posters of political leaders, they converse with each other and drink from their cups. The kettles are many…and huge.

The photographer explains: “This project was moulded from my childhood days of having seen my grandparents with their friends coming over to our home for mahjong sessions and watching them drink tea and chat among themselves on Sundays. It was only in 2015 that I managed to travel to Chengdu, China to do a personal project on a traditional teahouse for five days, being there early in the morning till evening. The images shown are what was experienced by me when I was a child then, albeit different but same in their purest essence.”

Links: Website (nickng.zenfolio.com) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/nicknyk)

Images used with permission.