Reporting from the Motherland: Parental Love

As you know, Richmond Hill Asian has just returned from the ultimate Asian trip to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo to explore her cultural roots. Sponsored by her parents, this trip gave the opportunity to reclaim whatever Asianness she could in the midst of otherwise Canadian whitewashedness. (Actually, this trip was really just to attend a wedding in Singapore and to visit my dear brother and sister-in-law in Tokyo). Whatever the motives, this trip was immensely eye-opening and allowed me to experience, first-hand, the ways of living and adapting in the motherland that inspired the Asian-Canadian syncreticism you see in Richmond Hill today.

Note: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo are all VASTLY different from one another, and because R-Hill Asian grew up among mainly Hong Kong immigrants, I will focus on how HK-ness influenced the way I was raised. In particular, the issue of parental love:

1) Put on a sweater! Bring an umbrella!

Many an Asian has grown up hearing their own mother yell after them when they leave the door: “Wear an extra layer! Bring an umbrella!” Girls will also hear a message of modesty: “Cover those shoulders! No daughter of mine will walk out in that miniskirt!” While often misinterpreted as annoyance, or as an expression of backwards Asian conservatism, this rebuke actually comes more out of pragmaticism than exasperation. As you recall, Asians are practical creatures, and so pragmaticism goes hand in hand with love. Your parents warn you against weather’s fickleness, and to guard yourself against chills and wet hair, because they love you. Asian girls are asked to “cover their shoulders” because without an extra sweater, they can actually freeze at night when temperatures drop 10degrees below the daytime high.

The sentiment does not make so much sense to those living in Canada, where, as you notice, each day remains relatively stable in terms of precipitation. You’ll get a sunny day, an overcast day, a rainy day, a snow day, but you’ll rarely get all four in one day. In Hong Kong, you not only bear with considerable humidity, but also experience sun in the morning, fog/clouds/air pollution smog thingies in the afternoon, then monsoon rains after, then rain while the sun shines, and then a typhoon warning at night. Hong Kong is also a commuter’s city, which means that when the rain hits, there is no personal car to duck into. It is essential to bring an extra jacket and umbrella, because monsoon rains aren’t a light, romantic drizzle: they are serious shit.

This is what the skyline looks like as you're travelling away from the city to the airport. I think that's smog, but I survived!
This is what the skyline looks like as you’re travelling away from the city to the airport. I think that’s smog, but I survived!
A "sunny" day in Hong Kong (Stanley Park, actually).
A “sunny” day in Hong Kong (Stanley Park, actually).

 

The Weather Network has decided Hong Kong's weather is too fickle to catalogue thoroughly. What this means is that you'll get a random rotation of sun/clouds and the constant threat of rain.
The Weather Network has decided Hong Kong’s weather is too fickle to catalogue thoroughly. What this means is that you’ll get a random rotation of sun/clouds and the constant threat of rain.

But why the sweater, you wonder? This is due to Hong Kong’s infamous air conditioning, which can render indoor places (malls, some restaurants, buses, etc.) a good 10-15 degrees lower than outdoor temperatures plus humidity. The sudden drop in temperature is known to cause chills, migraines, and so forth, so many people brave the humidity altogether and just go out in full-length sweaters and trousers, knowing they’ll be in their air-conditioned offices soon.

So there you have it: Parents tell you to protect yourself against the weather because they love you!

Here's the Asian standing in front of (a former school?) with parents who genuinely love her. Note, the sweater was removed.
Here’s the Asian standing in front of (a former school?) with parents who genuinely love her. Note, the sweater was removed.
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