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Melcyan is a Water Dragon. He is also a retired Chemistry teacher and a lifelong learner. He met his Chinese partner for the first time in 2007 while ballroom dancing in Australia. Their relationship started in 2010 and they have been together ever since. His focus on CLM has been to learn more about the implications of his life-partner's culture and language for building a lifelong loving relationship.
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Little China    

By Melcyan
1211 Views | 40 Comments | 4/28/2019 1:35:07 AM

Young Chinese woman

My eyes flicker open. I awake in a bed that I have never slept in before. A young Chinese woman is above me. Where am I?

 

I am in “Little China”.

 

The beautiful Chinese woman is holding a fish. She is part of a 3D wall hanging that is less than a metre from my head. Next to her is a red woven good luck symbol. A few metres further away is a giant version of the same symbol hanging on a permanently locked door.

 

It is 7-30 am. I need more sleep but there is too much light in the room. On my way to the toilet, I notice that my partner’s bedroom door and her mother’s bedroom door are closed. Good, my partner is a very light sleeper. With the door closed my partner has less chance of being disturbed by any noise that I make.  I don’t have to worry about waking mama. She is deaf and never wears her hearing aid. I can hear her snoring. A bomb would not wake her.

 

Returning to where I slept I decide to give up on the idea of getting any extra sleep. It might be more than an hour before my partner gets up. I cast my eyes around the room. I see so much more when I look at my surroundings in a relaxed state.

 

The bed that I slept in is a $3000 hospital bed. Mama didn’t like using it. She has not used it since she recovered from her broken hip 3 to 4 years ago. Instead, we cut six inches off the legs of mama’s own bed and installed support rails on the wall so that she could get in and out of bed more easily.

 

As I look around this large room I can feel so much of the history of my relationship of more than 8 years with my Chinese partner. I can remember when this room used to be mama’s satellite TV viewing room. In this room, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in China. Outside these walls is suburban Australia. Inside the walls of my partner’s house, it is “Little China”.

 

Mama can’t use this room any more because she can no longer safely negotiate the two steps at the entry. However, rapid advances in communication technology meant that mama did not need to remain separate from her Chinese TV for very long. Internet TV has easily surpassed the offerings of old satellite TV. I often pass mama asleep in her recliner chair with Chinese TV from the internet blaring in front of her.

 

Fortunately, I like Chinese TV. Hearing Mandarin is normal and comfortable for me now. I understand and can read at least a thousand Chinese words (One app that I use says I have mastered over 2000 Chinese words but it lies). Sometimes I will get absorbed by one of mama’s Chinese movies. My partner finds that very funny.

 

However, my partner's native tongue, Shanghainese, hits me like a brick wall. I barely know ten words of Shanghainese. It makes me feel isolated. That disappoints me. It's unfortunate that the native language of my partner isolates me. Maybe I will be more comfortable with the Shanghainese language when I get much better with my Mandarin.

 

The next object in this room to catch my eye makes me feel guilty. It is a work of art (see the photo below). Or is it a dried vegetable? I now realise that it is both. It used to hang from the ceiling until I broke it. My partner asked me to take it down so that she could dust it. Call me dumb but I had no idea that this was vegetable matter. It felt like a well-made work of art. However, I broke the stem of this work of art and it can no longer hang from the ceiling like it should. It now just sits on a shelf.

 

I can also see a bug zapper tennis racquet. I was unsuccessful using it last night trying to kill a mosquito. You can't buy them in Australia but my partner keeps asking for them in the local shops. I will just have to buy one for her online. My partner is very funny to watch when she uses the bug zapper. She apologises to the insect before she kills it. Then she rebukes the dead insect for making the big mistake of entering her house.

 

An hour of quiet meditative contemplation passes very quickly. My partner enters the room. She is so happy. She has slept well and coming into this room she finds it neat and tidy with the bed made exactly the way she makes it. Her eyes are sparkling and wide open. I know that look. My eyes are now wide open too.

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#2019-04-28 01:34:55 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

I love that you call your partner's home "Little China". I love that she keeps her home so full of reminders of China. I am sure that is true of almost all immigrants of China to Western countries for the early stages of there movement into those foreign countries. I am not certain how long it lasts.

For example, my Chinese wife, who lived in Australia for about 20 years before we met and married, keeps almost no reminders in our home that she is Chinese. At least no reminders that are visible as you stroll through our home. The only visible evidence I can see at all are the 20 sets of chopsticks that reside amongst our silverware.

However, inside our cupboards, out of sight but not out of mind, are countless Chinese types of dishes, plates, bowls, cups, etc., that frequently come out to be involved in the eating of Chinese quisine that so often adorns our dinner table. And inside our cupboards, fridge and freezer are an equally incredible array of Chinese spices, herbs, sauces, vegetables, fruit and drinks that comprise much of that same quisine.

I'd love to hear from other members of CLM who are now partnered with or married to Chinese women, do your homes compare to that of Melcyan's partner's "Little China" or more to my home in which "Little China" is restricted pretty much to our kitchen and frequently to our dining table.

Likewise Melcyan I have to questions to ask:

1. After your partner's mother has passed away do you envision that you and your partner with choose to live together?

2. If so, how much do you imagine your home will then be "Little China"? 

Just as a side note, I would not mind at all having a few reminders of life in China adorning our home. It is not me who has chosen to live without them.

#2019-04-28 08:07:49 by melcyan @melcyan

@JohnAbbot 

I don't have time to answer your questions properly today. Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking our lives are similar. Your comment raises many questions that will have to wait until later. However, I strongly suspect that by far the biggest difference in our Western man / Chinese woman lives is the role that "mama" plays.

#2019-04-28 11:25:08 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

@Melcyan

Wo ye 'a la wu dong' Shanghai hua (rofl)

#2019-04-29 02:55:23 by newbeginning @newbeginning

John if you want some reminders of China in your home then put some reminders of China in your home...period. Melcyan, why not marry your girlfriend of 8 years? What holds you two back from doing so? I have some of these red Chinese decorations but they are not on my walls, they are in a storage box in a storage room.

Mosquitos are a huge pain in the ass, if they were not bat food I would say exterminate the little bastards and bitches!! 

Cheers

#2019-04-29 16:10:44 by oldghost @oldghost

My ex-wife left little or no evidence of China.  She used to place fruit and cakes on the table and pull out a chair to invite fojiao to come - apparently only 2-3hours flying fom China.  I would smile but never laugh.  Both of us were/are serious atheists except in this respect.  Otherwise anything Chinese is my selection, art and books, and a much valued Credit Suisse Economic map of China, 2008 which I would love to update.  Above my bed some modern Chinese art, and in my office pictures of pottery treasures stolen from the mainland and held in the Taiwan Taibei national museum.

#2019-04-29 16:44:11 by melcyan @melcyan

@paulfox1

Your use of pinyin sometimes drives me crazy but I think you are trying to say that you also understand Shanghainese dialect. You treat pinyin as a written language. My brain just does not work that way. Is there a commonly agreed type of Shanghainese "pinyin" that accurately communicates the sound of Shanghainese words?

 

#2019-04-29 16:55:12 by melcyan @melcyan

@newbeginning

"Melcyan, why not marry your girlfriend of 8 years?"

We are only 67 and 64 years old. My partner does not want to rush things.

 

#2019-04-29 18:06:00 by melcyan @melcyan

@JohnAbbot

 

I suspect that your partner puts you first. My partner puts her mother first. That key difference in our circumstances explains a lot. My partner’s niece says that she only knows one Chinese woman who is more traditional than my partner. My partner has lived for 29 years in Australia. She bought a house 25 years ago. Her two brothers helped her make the purchase.

 

One year later mama moves to Australia. The move is a forever move. She will live in her daughter’s house until the day she dies. My partner has made sure that mama’s life is the best it can be. Every time I see mama she is smiling and laughing. She enjoys her life. In a few sentences, I have described just one example of filial piety of 3 Chinese siblings towards their Chinese mother.

 

I have never called my partner’s house Little China before this blog – it just feels that way. This house serves mama's needs. I understand and accept filial piety. Mama comes first. I accept that. I am now part of this amazing Chinese family in every way except marriage.  I feel privileged to be accepted 100% into a Chinese family that I fully respect. Some men reading this right now will be thinking “I would not do that, that is not right”. For me it is right. 100% right.

 

After mama passes away my partner and I will live together but there will be teething problems. “Little China” in my partner’s eyes belongs to her brothers just as much as her. My partner sees no need for us to get married. In twelve months time, she will be entitled to a full Australian aged pension. She does not really need it but she wants it. It looks like the only way that we will get married is if I get a terminal illness.

 

My superannuation pension is a very good one but all that money stops if I die. However, if I marry my wife will get two-thirds of my superannuation pension for the rest of her life. I don’t want to see my superannuation money become the government’s money. My partner does not want my money. She wants me to live longer than her and for me to always be with her regardless of which house we are using.

 

I am becoming more Chinese as each year passes. Our house(s) will always be “Little China”.

#2019-04-30 13:51:51 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@melcyan

'A La Wu Dong' is Shanghai Hua for 'Ting Bu Dong' (I don't understand)

It was a tongue-in-cheek remark telling you, 'I also don't understand Shanghai dialect', by using Shanghai dialect.

#2019-05-01 15:51:37 by melcyan @melcyan

Two bug zapping "tennis racquets", just like the one in the photos above, arrived from China in the post today. It amazes me that you can get almost anything you want from almost anywhere in the world by simply making a click on a keyboard.

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