Monday, 8 March 2010

Chinese Lessons

I thought I will start this post quoting something smart from the book I had just finished reading, I can’t.

The book is- “Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China”.

As a Chinese myself, I think I have a good understanding of our qualities. We make good entrepreneurs, and are competitive, diligent, hardworking, prudent, humble, excellent with numbers, and hold great respect to the elders. On the contrary, our weaknesses lay in selfishness, rude, loud, jealousy, and ironically, once successful, we can be very arrogant, and corrupted.

It is safe to say that for a typical Chinese, there’s no such thing as equal, you are either better or inferior.

I have always been enthusiastic about China when it comes to its rich history. I finished reading two huge tomes that consists stories of the kingdom’s great battles and generals for 3000 years at the age of twelve. Those close to me are often perplexed at my fervent interest of Chinese historical documentaries, movies and drama series. (Jess probably just rolled her eyes at this point =P)

My interest in China's long history stop exactly at the chapter where communism emerged, which I view as the darkest period of Chinese history, not just to those living in the Middle Kingdom, but including those who fled overseas as well. I was disgusted by it, and often hoped that KMT had won the civil war instead. (See disclaimer)

I started reading Chinese Lessons half-heartedly. USA Today described the book as “A compelling account of China’s evolution. The communist country’s emergence from isolation and impoverishment has been told before, but rarely in such intimate, and occasionally heartrending, detail.” I couldn’t agree more.

I envy John Pomfret, whom is able to witness the transformation and thank him for changing my view on this country and its people. Now, I understand that the attitudes and behaviors are necessary to release decades of mount up dissatisfactions and grieves caused by the thuggish revolution. I would have gone crazy.

I was disgusted because I never really tried to understand the people.

Having to survive Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, Tiananmen Massacre and catching up with the international economy after decades of detour, I found utmost respect to the generation that had made it.

For the record, I’m still extremely grateful for my grandparents’ decision to flee the country and resettle in Malaysia.

Perhaps I should chat more often with my grandma and ask for her story. (According to my mom, she left China at the age of 16, already married to my grandfather) You should read this book if you haven’t.

If you read the entire article, you should understand by now that it was meant to say how much I had misunderstood the Mainland Chinese, if you have not, I urge you to. This post was written with my new found respect to them, as well as my continuos admiration for Taiwanese Chinese.


My Bangkok post is work in progress.. =)

At the mean time, you can visit my FB photo album to check out some b/w, cross-processed and toy cam's images.

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