Monday, September 10, 2007

Thoughts While in California

So I meant to write about this and post it several weeks ago. But stuff happens, etc etc. Anyway, I was in Milpitas, CA for about a week and a half, mostly visiting relatives. We did go to San Francisco, which was nice (but after a while, Chinatown gets kind of boring). Here are some of my (brief) thoughts while I was in CA.
1. Cousin
My little cousin is so cute. And he loves to interact with people, to play, to be held, and such. He's particularly attached to me. He would always try to lead me somewhere by the hand, "pretending" to drag me wherever he was going. He usually sought me out if he wanted someone to play with. It's endearing, to be sure. But he also has SO much energy! I get so worn out from being with him all day.

Also, he loves to be held and carried, as do all little kids (he's about 4). He likes hugs and such. And I wonder, when do people stop liking that kind of stuff? When do people get defensive about their personal space, and develop distance from others? It's kind of lonely. I want someone to hold, I want someone to hold me, I want to cuddle and get hugs, and all such things. A part of me wants to be a little kid again, to be innocent and free of most burdens and worries. Yeah, it's kind of lonely and I want someone. Alas.

2. Grandparents
Oh man, my grandparents are awesome (I also think most grandparents are awesome to begin with). They're so stereotypical Asian grandparents. All they do is go on walks/exercise, read/watch the news, cook, garden, and the like. It sounds weird, but a part of me really aspires to be like my grandparents.

I know they've gone through so much in their lives, and have survived so many changes. They made it through the Cultural Revolution in China, they were educated (a bad thing at the time in China), and they also had to work on the farms. They raised 3 children and were able to bring them all to the US. And while they don't talk about their own past very much, you can see it's still there somewhere deep inside. There's also a kind of nostalgia in their eyes, but they live so much in the present at the same time.

Strength of character and that kind of wisdom that only comes with age, both are qualities they possess. They've also aged really well. They look like they haven't aged much more than a day over 60 (my grandma's about 65, and my grandpa's over 70). And for their age they have pretty much NO health problems. No high blood pressure, no cancer, no high cholesterol, no diabetes - perfect health. It's rather insane. In a very subtle way, they are among the best role models I know.

3. Asian vs. Western Culture
Okay, so this mostly refers to food and how it's served. But the overarching theme is that Eastern (Asian) cultures tend to be more communal whereas Western cultures are more individualistic. This has been iterated and reiterated throughout anthropology classes, so it's really nothing new. But you begin to notice them in the most random places, such as at restaurants.

In a typical Western restaurant, each person is served his/her own dish. There might be some appetizers that might be collectively eaten, but for the most part each person has his/her own food. In contrast, in a typical Chinese restaurant, each person gets a bowl of rice. But the dishes are ordered and eaten communally, so basically everyone takes a bit of the dish and combines that with their rice. This way, all the food is shared except the rice.

Which "system" do I like better? Personally, I lean towards the Chinese style. You have a wider variety of food on your plate, whereas I'd be stuck with just my food otherwise; and if I didn't like my food, well too bad. Certainly the communal cultures work best when there's a lot of people eating, as was the case when I visited relatives in CA. But even on campus, 4-10 of us would get together, go to our favorite Chinese restaurant, and order 7 dishes or so to be shared amongst everyone. And the bill is divided evenly amongst everyone too, so that's kind of nice.
So I think that's pretty much it. There were some other random smaller snippets of thoughts, but these three are the main ones.

Oh, I met Sexy Chinese Guy yesterday outside of Chinese class. I was leaving the music school from practicing an original film score composed by a friend of mine (CM-M), for a short film of another mutual friend (JR-M). Anyway, we were both waiting at the bus stop.

So I've figured out why he has an accent, and yet his Chinese wasn't that great (it should've been better than mine if he had an Asian accent). He's an international student from Malaysia! He's a third generation Chinese born in Malaysia - his grandparents and parents are both Chinese but lived in Malaysia. So he speaks 3 languages: Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and English. That's pretty awesome. In addition to his awesome accent (again, I've like a thing for foreign accents), he also has a really cute smile.

Gah, Chinese class is so distracting. He sits across the (small) room from me, and right next to Cute Chinese Girl too. I don't really know either of their names yet, but whatever. It's annoying getting these random mini-crushes on people. At least they're not major crushes - the kind that makes you stutter and sweat when you're in that person's presence.


Cody said...

So I just skimmed your blog so far and it looks good. I love the name; so appropriate. Has anybody pointed out to you that you love making lists and have a very organized writing style? Hehe it's so different from mine.

Aek said...

Haha, thanks. It's a writing style that has honestly NEVER failed to get me at least an A- on a paper in college.

I really like your icon and head title background thingy (don't actually know what to call it). It has a very autumnal feel. When I have the time I'll figure out a way to fiddle around with mine and add something.

Rawr said...

First time commenting here... um, just wanted to say that I found your thoughts about the Malaysian accent to be quite interesting. I'm Malaysian, and where I'm studying (in the Midwest), people just give me weird looks when I talk unless I force out a pseudo-American accent. They don't understand the Malaysian accent. So I'd venture they don't find it interesting like you did.

Not trying to generalize Americans or anything, but I guess being where I am, it can feel like people here are too bothered with my 'foreign' accent; they don't focus on my message as much.

It's cool that you would find a Malaysian accent interesting, though :)

Aek said...

Haha, I LOVE foreign accents (American accents, not so much). Accents make my day.