Growing up as a resident of Lithonia, Georgia I was fortunate enough at an early age to have parents that gave me a sense of identity. As a long time member of First African Church, as a youth I saw a lot of the African practices and rituals as monotonous and unnecessary. As I become older and more mature exploring other cultures, I have learned that the foundation that I gained as a child and young man has allowed me to branch out internationally-- and feel comfortable being myself while doing so.
When I initially left to live in China there were many struggles. The mental struggle of wanting to achieve a goal but not seeing anyone around you striving for the same things, the culture shock of how people view me and try to define me, and the constant characters, tones, and pure difficulty of being in an unfamiliar surrounding where at its apex, the challenges almost made me go back home where things were familiar and comfortable. After returning home, I discovered that people were interested in my experiences. That encouraged me to keep going to the point where I am now.
As I travel throughout Hong Kong with three of my former classmates (The girls) who are natives and studied with me at Nanjing University, I now see how all these experiences have shaped who I am today. I am comfortable with myself and know about my own culture which I teach to others. This in turn allows me to feel confidant to learn more about others culture and customs.
Today while in Hong Kong I told my friends that I wanted to learn more about Hong Kong’s food culture and what are attributes unique to Hong Kong. The girls were able to take me to a local restaurant that all the locals rave about. In order to get in this noodle restaurant you have to wait in a long line that usually wraps around the building. I thought it was only good marketing, but once I got inside and order beef noodles I saw the light.
"These Noodles are Magical I told my classmate Peggy!"
I have had a lot of noodles in my day but these noodles were an experience. The texture, the flavor, and the soup blended perfectly together in a way that is difficult to describe. The beef was tender and succulent. After eating the noodles, the girls introduced me to famous bread only made in the restaurant that goes with the soup. This restaurant can only be found in Hong Kong.
After eating a wonderful meal the girls were adamant in not letting me pay. In fact, during the whole time I have been in Hong Kong, I had to resort to threatening them that we would not be friends if they continued to refuse to allow me to pay for anything.
After eating the noodles we went to try a type of bean curd desert soup that is famous and unique in Hong Kong. The bean curd was a bit bland but once you add sugar to it is quite delicious. The girls were a bit let down when I told them black folks cannot dump sugar in food like that. If I ate the bean curd desert everyday, It is almost guaranteed
I would have diabetes within the next couple of months.
After eating we went to the lower income section of Hong Kong, observed that the people that are considered poor in this country are the outsiders (From Poorer Asian Countries) or the dark people. The people from South Asia and India (who are usually darker) form the underbelly of society. They are the maids, the janitors, or the people that work for the wealthy.
No matter where I go to or what countries I have been to, I see this is a common phenomenon. Weather it is China, Jamaica, or America, it always seems that the is an economic relation between a group's skin color and their economic status. It saddens me to see how these people are usually relegated to being the outcast of society and frowned upon by the Chinese. As I walked past them most of the guys give me a head nod and the women look at me perplexed. It is evident that they don’t know how to categorize me.
In total, Hong Kong is a nice place. If you are in international finance or at the top of an industry it is a wonderful place to live. There are people from around the world here and it is an international city. By looking at the skyscrapers and renovation projects it is easy to see that this country is still continuing to define itself and its role as a world financial center and cultural melting pot with a heavy British influence. Tomorrow I will head into the mainland of China to visit old university friends and reminisce on my old stumping grounds.