Friday, April 18, 2014

My Big Fat Los Angeles - Shanghai Life

I live in a dichotomy of two worlds daily.  I am a proud first generation Chinese- American living in the United States and my family and I live trans-pacifically between Los Angeles and Shanghai, China.   

So I am a blend of two very distinct worlds living life as an American.  I also physically vacillate between two continents since my family and I reside in both.  In 2011, I was at LAX or the Los Angeles International Airport at least 15 times to shuttle family members or myself to and from Shanghai or Beijing, China.  Some families go to their favorite restaurant once a month.  We go to the airport.  Some people may consider this to be rather complex, but for me I only see many advantages.   Luckily, the shuttling to LAX eased since then to only 4 times so far this year.  

I was made in Taiwan and raised in the United States, predominantly in the greater metropolis of Los Angeles.   My family and I are American citizens.  I speak both English and Mandarin.  I am culturally ingrained and indoctrinated in both the Chinese and American cultures.  Since I grew up in Los Angeles, watching 21 Jump Street, eating fish tacos and singing to Madonna was the norm.  Just an average American girl.  However, I look entirely Asian.   

The original cast of "21 Jumpstreet" 

My Southern California favorite - grilled fish tacos on corn tortillas!

Madonna "Vogue"!

Often, I feel like a woman with no country being a blend of two worlds.  I don’t look “White” enough to be American and I don’t act “Chinese” enough to be entirely Chinese either, especially when it comes to eating fish tacos.  But I feel that it’s my strength rather than a setback.

For one, it opens my mind.  I’m never stuck in one country too long to develop mind numbing narrow mindedness or blinding inertia.  In another words, I don’t become a redneck of any country.   And believe me, there are rednecks in every country!  

Cletus and Clem in rural Montana awaiting internet access

Wedding couple riding off in their tractor 

Lao Fung, in rural China has internet access and most likely a cell phone too. Chews on tea leaves to clean teeth in lieu of toothpaste. 

Used watermelon for ramen bowl and toilet paper for napkin 

Being open minded, I don’t develop hard and fast rules because I've learned that there are many ways to see life, view life and live it entirely. Being adaptable and flexible is the name of the game in this global economy. Often, this has become a comparative advantage for me in work and personal life. My ability to speak another language and immerse in its culture has opened many doors for me in both US and China that I am truly grateful.  Most importantly, my knowledge is not limited by geography or the city I live in.  If I keep an open mind, I can always learn something new wherever I am.  Nothing can be more differently than the East and West too.  It’s one thing to live between US and Europe, where perhaps they might share some similarities in Western culture and origins.  But the US and Asia are two entirely different animals in language, culture, history and thinking.  At least the US and Europe use forks and knives to eat and share some common Latin origins in language.  Not so in Asia where they use chopsticks and have a different language universe entirely. 

Who wants to be stuck with only one governmental system and cultural norm?  What if you had the language and cultural competency to access the two most powerful countries currently in the world?  What if you can have knowledge about the latest technologies and innovations because they are in your own backyards?  What if you were able to see and experience the world first hand that others only read about or see on TV?

For me, I enjoy my big fat world.  I am happy to be in between two worlds daily for the richness and diversity it brings.   For the same reasons, I developed The Beijing Family book series about a Chinese billionaire and his family living a bi-coastal life as well in Beverly Hills, California and Beijing, China.  Many of the story lines are inspired by own personal experiences living trans-pacifically. Not only does it bring a rainbow of scenes and plots but it brings more depth and cultural variety to the story line.  As an author, it’s a lot more fun and interesting!

More stories about my big fat Los Angeles- Shanghai life to follow.....

Written by Gina Tang, author of The Beijing Family book series.

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