Wednesday, April 5, 2006

shuang xi

When I was much younger, it was considered uncool to be associated with anything cheena, or remotely linked to a Chinese background.
The 'in' kids in school were always the English-speaking bunch, especially the Eurasians and those who hung out with the Malays.
These were the ones who raved over Madonna and Depeche Mode and Bananarama and Duran Duran.
So they were laughed at in Chinese classes because they read with an ang moh accent.
Big deal.
It only made everyone else want to be like them more.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the cheena ppl who make your head spin with their Chinese idioms and proverbs and what-nots.
These are the ones who go ga-ga over The Little Tigers and the 4 Heavenly Kings and Sammi Cheng and Vivian Chow.
So they knew nothing about what was going on in Hollywood.
Big deal.
As long as they had their Qiong Yao novels, the world can come to a standstill for all they care.

Having a dad who hails from China, and a mum who taught me to appreciate reading in English, I found myself somewhere in the middle.
My Chinese gang thought I was too Westernized and my English-speaking friends constantly complained that I was too cheena.
And to add on to that, let's not forget that I converse with my cute granny in Hokkien.
I think it was confusing for people who were just getting to know me.
They just didn't know what to call me - Banana, Cheena or Ah Lian.

I would really like to say I am effectively bilingual, but I think my grasp of the Mandarin language is nowhere near my conversant level in English.
I don't think I own a single Chinese book, with the exception of my English-Chinese Bible, and my bed-time reading remains of the English variety.
I have, however, learnt to appreciate and love the beautiful Chinese language.
It only takes a few well-chosen Chinese words to make me swoon, as I realised from watching Huan Zhu Ge Ge! Hahaha.

Walking contradiction? Maybe.

But I've come to terms with it.
I am a hybrid of my environment.
So I am influenced by the Western in my dressing, but I remain staunchly Asian in my values and thoughts.
That's cool for me.
Besides, now that China is starting to open up, it's getting more hip to return to our Chinese roots.
I'm sure everyone who failed Chinese and laughed about it then, is regretting it now. Ha!
If nothing else, it's fun to have friends from all camps of life! :)
Maybe I should pick up Bahasa Indo and Korean, and brush up on my Cantonese too eh? :)

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