Lou Hei

Posted in Thoughts by Sandra on January 28, 2009

It’s 00:14 now, and I’ve been lying awake for at least the past half an hour, trying to court sleep.

I’d starting thinking about my dying grasp of Mandarin. As many who know me would know, my command of the English language is far superior to my mother tongue’s. Which is a real pity, even more so now that I hardly have to speak it. Here in Australia, even the Asians speak to one another in English, unless they’re friends.

Many a times I’d asked a question in Mandarin in some desperate attempt to remind myself how to speak it, only to have the other reply in accented English. To which I would reply in English, a little shame-faced at my audacity to speak in something other than Mandarin. After all, they could be of some other ethnicity.

I feel like I’m losing my cultural identity, not that I had much to begin with. Ever since I was 11, when I chanced upon the phrase “white-washed Asian”, I’ve identified with that. I’m about as Asian as a Westerner who happens to eat rice every other day. Chinese New Year, before I moved to Australia, was but a time for collecting angpaos and meeting people I didn’t know. Now, I’m struggling to keep any semblence of it in my life, to the point of deciding that I’d make my own “lou hei“. I’ll find an ingredients list for it tomorrow, as well as the words one speaks as she mixes the ingredients up.

Admitting that I’m losing so much of myself that I didn’t know existed in the first place feels disconcerting.

I think I shall toddle off to bed now.

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