Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy 4707!

Or 4706 if you are a heathen Communist. :D

One of my co-contributors at Chicagoboyz has a blog titled "Between Worlds". I also live that way, but by choice - we speak primarily Mandarin at home, I travel to Japan frequently, older Russians and I share not-so-fond memories of how it used to be in the USSR, and I'm a Johnny Reb living in Yankeeland.

My wife, of course, is even more between worlds than I, having grown up in a Taiwan still under Martial Law where speaking her mother's native tongue of Taiwanese would get her a monetary fine, and moving to the US at a young age, adding English to her polyglot mix.

I really don't find my personal path all that unusual, as I work with a lot of people who were not born in the US, but once in a while it hits me that I'm a lot different from most of my older relatives who never traveled more than 50 miles from home. Chinese New Year is one such time.

I was in Singapore not long ago, sitting in the food court of a shopping mall. A distinctive (to most Chinese people) voice came on the PA Muzak system, singing a song called Tian Mi Mi (甜蜜蜜):

There I was, only a few degrees above the equator on the other side of the world, and I recognized not only the tune, but the words and the singer, Teresa Teng (鄧麗君). Suddenly, I felt a little alien to myself.

Zai na li, zai na li jian guo ni
Where, where have I seen you before

Ni de xiao rong zhe yang shou xi
Your laughter is so familiar

Wo yi shi xiang bu qi
I can't remember at the moment

A... zai meng li
Ah... in my dreams

Meng li, meng li jian guo ni
In my dreams, in my dreams I've seen you before

Tian mi, xiao de duo tian mi
Sweetly, smiles so sweetly

Shi ni! shi ni! meng jian de jiu shi ni
It's you! It's you! The one in my dreams is you!

So to all of you Refugees out there, missing a little of China this New Year: