This was my first trip to China, and it was a bit of a culture shock, not only because of its obvious differences with Singapore, but also because of its similarities which run below skin-deep. This was especially dislocating for me, considering how I was brought up in a supposedly Chinese school, but with woefully little understanding of Chinese culture, partially because of my family history (I’m the youngest child, and my dad and mum are either the youngest or close – so we’ve had less contact with tradition) and my actual schooling. I used to enjoy studying Chinese and listening to Chinese music in early secondary school, but my time in HP and beyond skewed my interests quite differently.
But maybe it’s not just me, but society in general (or the people around me at least, whom represent a small fragment of society) that has lost touch with Chinese culture. Becoming international and globalised has eroded tradition, and China’s restrictions on the Internet (and other freedoms) don’t help arrest the waning interest in Chinese society. Being unable to speak fluent Mandarin has for years been a source of embarrassment for Chinese in Singapore, but nowadays it is even becoming cool to be monolingual. While I do have many bilingual friends, I do think effective bilingualism also implies biculturalism, and I don’t see that as much. I’m rather monocultural myself.
I’ve been reading this book which has rekindled my interest in China’s narrative. I’ve also gone back to listening to Chinese music (also with the assistance of That Girl in Pinafore, which harks back to a society so unfamiliar to a kid growing up in the new millennium), which has been extremely refreshing. I hope to return to China soon. There is much to see and think about.
Not featured in pictures: watching Chinese television shows. Interesting in so many ways! My favourite were the spinoffs from Western reality television shows, like Masterchef China, China’s Got Talent and The Voice China (the latter of which I am now following).