When I lived in Hong Kong, I not only learned to adjust my vocabulary to British English, but also learned a slew of foreign words adopted into the English language there.
Like godown. It’s a Malay word for warehouse, preferably dock-side. And shroff, which comes from the Hindi/Urdu/Arabic word for money changer. Then there’s amah, a Portuguese word for wet nurse, which in Hong Kong translates into nanny. Breastfeeding isn’t involved.
When I think of godown, I think of the popular expat hangout in Hong Kong. In this 1972 tourist book, the Godown boasts that:
It is the first place in town which had European secretaries serving on tables and is really worth a visit.
I’m sure it was.
Rumor has it that the man in the bottom photo was the Godown’s owner, Bill Nash. Years later the Godown moved across the harbor to Hong Kong Island.
It’s a standard expat bar, and no longer a Chelsea-type restaurant with a concise, but first-class menu.