In 2013 my wife and I were looking to buy our first home – something bigger in a nice suburb with a good school nearby. During the inspection for a three-bedroom unit in Killara I […]
Here enters the second part of Barry Li’s recount. It’s the difficult one to do: critique and commenting on someone’s personal story, especially when it’s only just over three pages in length. I’m guessing we will probably learn more about Li from the rest of the book than just this section.
He’s 10 months old when he leaves his parents to live with relatives. He doesn’t live with them again until – I’m estimating rough dates here – about 14 years later to finish high school in Beijing. Is this normal? For an only child to be separated from his parents and live 2600kms away? It’s not uncommon in any case.
I come to Barry Li’s book, The New Chinese: How They Are Changing Australia, with a little bit of background knowledge of China and the Chinese, having studied Mandarin for several years at high school and university, and having been to China four times, most recently having lived in Beijing for eight months. What I’m searching for here is something that fills the gaps of my knowledge, such as the difference between the psyche of Chinese people in China and the Chinese people in Australia. I’m certain there must be one; the world of urban Australia dining on breakfast until early afternoon, coffee and chatter spilling out onto footpaths sometimes seems realms away from the myriad of China’s alleyways, where tiny ‘hole-in-a-wall’ restaurants serve noodle and rice dishes without ceremony; where a central subway train arrives at least ever six minutes and bank cards are nearly obsolete to mobile payments; where large sections of the community still purchase fresh produce every day from local outdoor markets, the refrigerator used scarcely. I’m having trouble adjusting back to Australian life even after just a short time away – how does one who has lived a majority of their life in China transition to life here, or is it not so much of a step? That’s what I’m reading to find out.