I do not have too lucid of a memory of life before Guyana. My father had a motorcycle. I would sit in front, and rev. In retrospect, having a 5 year old kid control the speed of the bike is rather unwise. He left for Guyana in 1992 in search for better opportunities with his best friend (my mother, sister, and I arrived in 1994). He bought me a lot of toys, so he was an alright chap. My mother worked in a sewing factory, and I would end up next to her ‘sewing station’ after school. She is the hardest working person I know, even until now. I believe the last thing I learned in school was to count/write to one hundred using the method of counting as we all know it (that is - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…100), as opposed writing numbers in Chinese, as shown below.)
My best friend was my cousin; he is an older sibling figure. We played by the swings in school until we get bullied off of them by older kids. I would have fought for my rights, but my ‘big brother’ knew better… than to allow me to bring tragedy to their parents.
My maternal grandfather kept the family close. We have dinners frequently together at his house. The dinning table was always noisy and festive. We each have a bowl of white rice, and we all use chop sticks to pick from various dishes in the center of the table (much like how you would dine in New Thriving’s round tables with the rotating layer of glass). It is customary in the Chinese culture to show respect to your elders by picking the best piece of whichever dish (the chicken leg, for example), and place it in their bowl of rice. Vice versa, it is a sign of adoration if an elder gives you the chicken leg. Needless to say, I have been the recipient of the chicken leg, once.
As we are on the subject of table etiquette - during tea drinking, you should refill the cups of your friends before you refill yours (even if their cups are almost full). Conversely, if someone pours you tea, you should gently tap the table surface next to your cup with one finger. This says “thank you”. It is rather tedious to vocally express thanks frequently, as the cups are small, and refill intervals are short.
My cousins were all smart. I would guess this is as a result of them all competing to impress my grandfather. There seems be competition among our parents to impress my grandfather, as well. They would have their kids competing fiercely in school to make themselves look good, as if we were academic pokemons (haha, am I right?). I think, due to this competition, you attain the stereotypical “Asian smart”.
I would not have remembered this if I had not decided to start this blog - on the day we left for the airport, there was torrential rainfall. Our bus ride got stuck in a hole, which was opaqued in sight by the flood. It was as if a force was trying to stop us from reaching the airport, but, as luck would have it, I was inside a plane (yes, a PLANE) later that day.