Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home away from Home

Chinatowns have always been a place for Chinese immigrants to feel at home in a foreign land.

They originally began when Chinese immigrants – most from the Taishan region in Guangzhou province, left China to find work as manual labourers. Many of them went to Canada and the US working in the mines and building the railways.
Other ethnic groups also create their own “quartiers”, but none are quite as exotic and colourful as the Asian ones.
When step into a Chinatown, I almost feel like I’ve been transported to another country - I love it.

As a child, I travelled with my parents on road trips. Sometimes the only memory I had of a city was of its Chinatown.
I consider my parents to be more open minded than a lot of other Chinese immigrants I’ve met, but I also believe that there is a very competitive characteristic in Chinese culture – we are always comparing ourselves to others –

“Is the food in this city’s Chinatown really better than the food in our home Chinatown?”

I must admit, when I travel, now as an adult, - if there is a Chinatown, no matter how big or miniscule, - I HAVE to visit. Not only do I visit, I MUST take photos and send them to my entire family – which in a way makes them kind of proud.

Inevitably, staying true to my upbringing, I will always be comparing it to MY Chinatown.