Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Parent's Visit: a reflection
After about 10 days of non-stop chaos and go, my mind can finally unwind. I can finally take a deep breath in and know that no one is expecting me to do anything or organize anything. It feels great!
It was about 12 days ago now, that I first greeted my parents from the airport and welcomed them into China via the cushion of the modern, civilized city of Hong Kong. Although they were still a little on edge because of all the people in Hong Kong, in general, my parents loved Hong Kong. And what’s not to love? A convenient subway line that can take you to most areas in the city, double decker buses, English street signs and maps, big juicy hamburgers, starbucks on every other corner. The land of milk and honey where you can get your milk skim and your honey vitamin-enriched.
After 2 days of playing in Hong Kong, I took my parents on about 6 hours of travel inland to Hengyang, our little city in the spicy province of Hunan. After being in Hong Kong, Hengyang might have been a little bit of a shock to my parents. As soon as we got off the high speed train, my parents noticed the differences in this city. Our taxi driver, a little enamored to have 3 foreigners in her car drove quite cautiously and slow…no air conditioning. I could see my mom cheeks flushing with heat as sweat beads popped out on her forehead. But, the driver was kind and chatty and eventually we did make it to our destination, my humble abode.
My parents liked my place and by the end of their 5 days in Hengyang even mentioned that walking into my apartment really did feel like coming home. They helped enhance this feeling of “home” by giving the place a good scrubbing and rearranging the furniture.
Our normal days in Hengyang went something like this: go to class, go out to eat at a small restaurant, visit an interesting place in the city (the welfare center, the supermarket, the market, a coffee shop, etc.), visit with friends. The evening would end with Portia preparing things for class the next day and looking for things she misplaced.
Here are some of my highlights from my parents’ visit:
1. A local person telling me that dad looked like a movie star, Mr. Bean.
2. My parents’ infatuation with tofu. I think I was also in awe of the stuff at first, amazed that something that looks so unappetizing can be turned into something so delicious.
3. Dad’s pronunciation of a few select Chinese cities (Guangchai—still can’t find it on the map).
4. Mom speaking English to local people.
5. Mom tripping after a small team of hostesses in a fancy restaurant told us in Chinese to “go slowly.”
6. Dad and mom’s ability to have conversations with my students and friends.
7. Dad’s enthusiasm to try street food.
8. Mom’s excitement at discovering that the saltine crackers and 7Up here are even better than they are in America.
9. Dad and mom’s energy despite having jet lag and culture shock.
10. And finally, dad and mom’s curiosity into so many aspects of Chinese culture and life that I no longer even think about and quite truthfully that I don’t even know how to answer.