Well, I have been in South Florida for nearly four weeks now, and guess what, mih miss China. There, I said it. And it’s actually true. Lawd, mih a tun Chinese! Living in Tianjin, China for more than a year now, whenever I come ‘home’ to Florida on holiday, I realize that home is truly where you make it, not always where you originally put down roots.
What do I miss about China? For one thing, I miss my wood ears, a type of edible fungus. Yes you heard me right. It’s called mù ěr in Chinese and it grows on old tree trunks. You’ve seen it in forests, on old trees growing in the backyard. Check the picture, really looks like ears doesn’t it? In China, it is a staple vegetable plate found in just about every restaurant. It may not look appetizing to you, but cooked in garlic with a sprinkling of Chinese five-spice seasoning, it’s absolutely scrumptious. On a related note, I also miss the huge variety of mushrooms you get in China.
I miss the easily accessible vegetable markets you find in just about every neighbourhood. Some sprawl along for blocks, others are hidden away in narrow alleyways in bustling shopping districts. You find everything from mangoes, to jackfruit, to live fish in these markets. The colours, the freshness, the variety, and the fact that everything is super affordable, or cheap, makes it all the more attractive.
When I happen upon a new market, I spend hours exploring it, looking for a new kind of vegetable or fruit to experiment with. Of course, when I sit down to eat my new creation, I use chopsticks. That’s the other thing I miss, not getting these traditional Chinese utensils at restaurants in the west. Yuh waah sih mih a expertly use mih stick dem, It’s old hat to me now. So guess what I did the other day, I took my personal chopsticks with me when I met friends at a South Florida restaurant for lunch. I refused the knife and fork and tek out mih stick dem. The waiter looked surprised and watched me for a while. But, mih nevva mek it stap mih.
Of course, after the meal we all went to our respective cars to drive home. But, that now feels foreign to me because I walk or tek bus or subway in China. Public transportation is so easy and efficient, mih miss it. Buses come just about every 5 minutes, and the subway (Metro in China) arrives every 3-5 minutes. In South Florida, if you miss a bus you are likely to wait about forty minutes or more for the next one. There is no subway, but there is a tri-county train (TriRail and MetroRail). But again, they are scheduled 20 minutes to 1 hour apart depending on the time of day. Mi cyaa get used to dis.
Indeed, it is the China public transportation system that allows me to explore my adopted home. You are always surprised, taken aback, or in awe when you buck upon a new sight. One of the delightful things I miss is seeing young newly married couples taking wedding photos in picturesque places…this takes place everywhere in China. In fact, wedding photography is big business on the Asian continent. And, whether it’s day or night, the cityscape adds to the mood of the nuptial photos, especially those taken at night with the brilliantly lit buildings and causeways.
One thing I have gotten used to and absolutely miss right yah soh now, is my nighttime choreographed chinese dance routines with a group of women in the park. The picture on the right is just one example of what takes place every night all around China. Yes indeed, we dance to Mongolian, Tibetan, and even reggae music. So, when I get back at the end of August, mi haffi go play catchup. I miss the warmth, the laughter, the missteps, the hugs, the broken English and Chinese.
Speaking of the park, the other thing I miss is the fit elderly man I meet on my morning walks who eagerly teaches me Tai Chi. We may not speak the same language, but we clearly communicate on a human spiritual level. As well, the bevy of playful toddlers with their grandparents in the park every morning always makes my spirit shine.
I see these things as humanity at play, simply being. These are the things I miss.