Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 45: Living Better Lives begin with understanding more

DAY FORTY-FIVE: Tuesday, 4th May 2010

So, I found myself a Chinese Tutor and Translator. Yes, I am going to learn how to speak Mandarin – finally.

Yes, I am Chinese but I don’t speak it well. Not all Chinese can speak Chinese, or even write Chinese for that matter. People like me are called, “Bananas”. Because we are only yellow on the outside, but white inside. WE speak and write only English.

I am a little better – I can speak and write English and Malay. I do speak Hokkien (another Chinese dialect) and Cantonese fairly well. Now, with learning Mandarin, I shall be better equipped in my media work in China.

The biggest boo boo is when I do not even know how to write my name in Chinese. Yes, that is considered sacrilegious for a Chinese! Granted I do not even have a Chinese name to begin with. That is already very un-becoming in Asia.

Most Chinese people have Chinese names alongside their English names. For example, it could be – Shirley Tan May May or something to that effect. Me, and all my 3 sisters do not have any Chinese names at all.

This becomes especially amusing whenever we are conversing with any government agencies or officials in Malaysia alone – they will repeatedly ask us to give them our “FULL NAMES” and we will repeatedly tell them that those ARE our “FULL NAMES”. Then they will insist that we do not understand them properly, and they will say in an irritated tone, “YOUR NAME as in YOUR PASSPORT OR YOUR NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION CARD.”

Sometimes this can go on for a bit. These days, we know the drill – we just say straight off – “Yes, that is our full name as in our passport and our national identification card. Yes, we are Chinese but we do not have a Chinese name. Our father did not give us any. So, you can blame him for that. You want to talk to him too?”

This usually shuts them up and they will proceed with the actual task at hand.

Frankly, with or without a Chinese name does not make me any less Chinese or more “Banana’. Knowing how to speak the language or not also does not qualify me as a good Chinese. At the end of the day, it is whether I value my heritage and identify with it, within myself.

The best compliment I have received was from Madam Li Liang over dinner. She is the wife of the late Huang Hua. Here, allow me to explain something about Mrs. Huang Hua and her husband, and why I say that they are likened as "China’s National Treasures".

Mr. Huang Hua was the Foreign Minister and the one responsible for crafting China’s Open Door Policy with Deng Xiaoping. He was instrumental in laying the ground works along with Deng Xiaoping for what the Chinese are now enjoying. Mr. Huang Hua even rose to becoming the Vice Premier, while retaining his portfolio as Foreign Minister from December, 1976 and November, 1982.

During their time, China sent many of their students abroad to study and gain higher experience. Granted, some did not return home. But those who did certainly made an immense contribution to their own country. I love these two quotes from Deng Xiaoping, because it reflected what they were trying to achieve, while the whole world were looking down on them or criticizing them.

"When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself."
Deng Xiaoping

True enough, how China has transformed itself!

And to transform China is not any easy feat. It is painful, bloody, wrought with monumental challenges and filled with many personal sacrifices. It is only in private dinner talks with these highly esteemed individuals that one gets a glimpse of their real struggle. But they will not share these with the public because they do not wish to show their scars to anyone. It is theirs to bear.

Here, we must learn to understand and appreciate the cultural differences. They have very different ways of showing emotions and managing their own internal challenges. This is something we must all learn to respect. It is indeed a very cultural difference. And this is me, speaking as an Overseas Chinese who have been completely educated in foreign lands and only made her very first trip into China April last year.

Another favourite quote of mine from Deng Xiaoping is this –

"Let some people get rich first." Deng Xiaoping

It reflects how the Chinese needed to work at their own issues and manage them at their own pace and time. They are very different from the rest of the world, because they have been cut off from the rest of the world. But look at them now. Who would have guessed that it took about 25 years of real intense hard work, planning and execution prior to this day?

Oh yes, I almost forgot – Madam Li Liang, aka Mrs. Huang Hua said that eventhough I do not speak Chinese well, and I do not read it, I had more Chinese in me than most of the Chinese people in China today. I thought that was nice of her to say so.

And by the way, Madam Li Liang’s late father was one of Mao Zedong’s advisors. Madam Li Liang now sits on the Board of the Soong Ching-Ling’s Foundation, of which Deng Xiaoping’s eldest son is the Chairman. Soong Ching-Ling is the widow of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who is otherwise known as the "Father of Modern China".

Here is my DAY FORTY-FIVE :-

Weight: 53kg

No. Of Prostrations: 15 (ANOTHER CRAZY DAY)

Daily Sadhanas: Check and Done with Death Meditation and Dzambala Mantra.

Physical Exercise: 55 mins

Daily Reflection from "IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" – Here we go. I close my eyes and I picked out page 061.

Quote from Page 061 for Day Forty-Five:

“Do not hold anger, it benefits no one.

Do not act out of anger, you will only be ashamed afterwards.

Do not incite anger because you will get burned.

Be the first to make peace.

Be the peacemaker and wherever you go, you will be loved and be able to love.”

Personal Thoughts and Feelings:

This is literally my living motto nowadays.

I read all these Dharma or inspiring books, I sleep, I wake up and I make sure I practise what I have read and incorporate it into my daily life.

I don’t read it and then go to sleep and then just dream or forget it altogether the very next day.

It is not merely for a ‘feel good’ booster.

And it is certainly not something I read to help me go to sleep.

I read because it wakes me up from inside out.

Frankly, in the past, I used to be so appalled by China. I did not understand why they do the things they do and how they lived. The point is I did not understand and I made judgements from the little that I know or have read and I concluded them as facts. But in truth, I knew nothing.

I would say the same applies for almost everything else in life.

What little we know, we will make judgements and with the lot that we know, we cannot even save ourselves, let alone someone else.

I do not think it is important to tag me as Chinese or better or lesser Chinese. I think it is more important that I am a caring and kind human being. Because if I am not that, then whatever race or citizen I am, it is really immaterial. Even, worthless.

I truly hope that reading these quotes from If Not Now When also inspires all of you to live better lives by becoming better people. Or at least, aid you in some way to activating the best in you, if not the better you.

I sincerely hope you are getting some benefits as we speak.

Thank you very much for staying with me on this exercise of 100 days.

With folded hands and humility.

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