Bringing eggs to Britain
Monday December 4, 2006Amanda Olsson
Moving from Asia to the UK has been a transition for all of us and ? something I didn?t expect ? showed just how Asian my children have become. In Hong Kong there seem to be two categories that people fall into ? bananas or eggs. These are not derogatory terms. Basically, a banana is yellow on the outside and white on the inside, and this term is used to describe Asian people who have lived overseas for extended periods of time and have internalised western culture. Their ideas and values are those of western society. The converse of this is the egg, which is white on the outside and yellow on the inside. Eggs are of northern European descent and have adopted an Asian cultural perspective.
My children are eggs. They feel more at home in Asia. They smile broadly when they see a Chinese person walking down the street, and they are unfamiliar with a variety of western foods. They miss seeing Freddie the weatherman on Star News Asia. They talk about taking holidays back in Asia and they don?t think a meal is complete without a bowl of rice. When they saw the tiny packets of instant rice at the local supermarket here in the UK they fell about in hysterics; they had never seen a bag of rice lighter than around 8kg. They have no idea what a pound is, they don?t understand horoscopes and tell people that they were born in the Year of the Dog or the Year of the Rat when asked their star sign. They remove their shoes when they enter a house.
They walk through doors without holding them open for the person behind, as was the norm in Hong Kong. They want to know why we don?t have a kitchen god and they miss the smell of incense. They want to know why I didn?t buy kumquat trees over the Chinese new year for the entrance to our house. They eat seaweed at morning snack time, use chopsticks and enjoy pickled lemon rind. They miss the mongoose, geckos and snakes in our garden. They are scared of cows and they like their tea green. They are struggling to come to terms with bread and butter pudding, roast beef and tuna. One of them calls it chicken that tastes of fish and keeps asking why they can?t have it steamed with ginger and shallots.
Schoolteachers initially thought they were behind as they are totally at a loss with certain words. A teacher asked one of them to describe a lorry and they had no idea what she was talking about. If she?d asked them to describe a truck they would have been fine. But if she asks them who the prime minister is they still ask, ?Is it Tung Chee Hwa??
So now we are all busy making the adjustment from being eggs to turnips, although I think we will always carry part of Asia in us ? we will remain, at heart, eggs.
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